From Yurt to Can             Nov 2019

In March of this year, I sat in a yurt on the banks of a tributary of the North Santiam River in western Oregon. I had joined a group of others for a meditation retreat at Breitenbush. I listened to Luke Adler tell me that within 6 months of consistent twice-daily meditation practice, my life would be vastly different. It was difficult to comprehend, to be honest. 

We had no formulation for the clean functional protein water that I had in my mind's eye. I knew that if we could develop it, it would be brilliant for hydration and muscle recovery post workout. At the time, Jacoba and I were slaves to a consulting client that was demanding much of our time. Frankly, we had little idea on how to bring our vision to reality. Luke was right. Six months can have a dazzling impact on things.

Jon Maroney of Oregon Venture Fund referred us to Sarah Masoni and her team at the Food Innovation Center (FIC) right here in Portland. Sarah had Mike Adams work closely with us. We must have driven him crazy in our quest to develop a delicious and clear water loaded with at least 15g of whey protein using safe, simple, and healthy ingredients. One hundred and ten formulations later, we sipped our winners! FIC had crafted our first two flavors--Orange & Mango and Lemon & Ginger--made from water, whey protein isolate, salt, natural flavors, and organic sweeteners.  

It has really struck us how helpful this food startup ecosystem is. It is quite a phenomenon.
Jake Porter of Columbia Distributing referred us to Mike Radtke of Gilgamesh Brewing in Salem. Jake dates Courtney, Jacoba's good friend. We met with Mike and Jacob Foose at Gilgamesh. They were enthused to co-pack our water. We had a co-packer!

It was a busy summer! We participated in Oregon Entrepreneurs Network food cluster pitch event as a finalist. Jacoba exhibited for us at the Fancy Food Show in New York. At the end of a long day on June 27th, 2019 we had over 2,000 cans of Orange Mango that Gilgamesh ran for us to test the formulation. We were thrilled!

We did encounter a trademark speed bump with our original name of Restore. After much brainstorming, we landed on rebranding it as TATU. Tatu was my mother. She was an acclaimed South African artist. Tatu means three in Swahili--mind, body, soul. My mom encouraged me almost a decade ago to try yoga in order to avoid an operation on my knees. It worked. She would be 'tickled pink' (as she used to say) to know that her coaxing led her son down a path of wellness discovery. We ran an online branding competition and landed on the label design we have today. Each flavor of our protein water will have a corresponding swatch of color on the 'A' of TATU. The color has been chosen from one of my mom's paintings.

We just wrapped up a sensory test with Sue Queisser's help at OSU's Center for Sensory and Consumer Behavior Research. They tested TATU against three leading protein waters to determine consumer liking and purchase intent. The takeaway from the comprehensive 59-page report was favorable. TATU had a significantly higher purchase intent based on taste alone and based on ingredient statement and the nutrition panel.

We are excited for our upcoming production run of both flavors in December to introduce TATU to the market here in Portland. Despite us being a nascent startup, our whey ingredient supplier, Fonterra, has been a marvelous partner and supporter of what we envisage for the product line.

Thank you to all of you who have kindly helped us on this journey!


Sean Penrith - CEO | Co-Founder
Jacoba Gundle - Operations | Co-Founder

Tatu in Namaqualand

Formulation tasting underway

Jacoba at Fancy Foods NYC

Tasting at the REDD

First test run at Gilgamesh

Tatu up against the power brands

Oregon Benefit Company Certified!

Our final label design

Studio Spotlight 

A special than you to Industrial Barre + Ride for letting us sample TATU protein water at their studio! They have an amazing set up and two studio locations in Portland. Visit their website for more information and to schedule your next class!

Mindful Proteins Advisory Circle

We have been blessed with an amazingly engaged group of advisors that have helped us navigate our route thus far. Thank you all so much, seriously!

Morgan Rider - Oliver Russell Branding
Melanie Haliburton - Yogi Tea
David Hicks - Food and Beverage Consultant 
Guru Hari Khalsa - Co-Founder of the Moon & Lotus Center for Movement and Healing
Anton Kimball - Kimball Design 
Emily Light - Emily Light Yoga
Leona West Fox - Certified Nutritionist & Certified Herbalist
Copyright © 2019 Mindful Proteins, All rights reserved.

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