Don Gauvreau

Co-founder and vice-president, PharmaFreak Age: 35

In three short years, Don Gauvreau has gone from being a kindergarten teacher to the co-founder of a sports supplement company with $10 million in sales.

Gauvreau, who competed in bodybuilding competitions in university, had experience selling and using dietary supplements. But after completing degrees in education, kinesiology and science, he thought he was settling into a teaching career when he started a job at a school in Toronto.

“I still just had so much passion for the nutrition and dietary supplement industry,” he said. “I still kept reading the journal articles, I still kept studying the ingredients in my spare time.”

Gauvreau started to develop what would become PharmaFreak’s first product, a supplement called Ripped Freak, while he was still holding down his teaching job. Eventually, he quit to work on PharmaFreak full time.

But with no personal savings, bank loans or investors, Gauvreau and business partner Alex Savva had to think creatively to get their product on store shelves next to well-established brands.

“We didn’t have money to advertise,” he said. “We needed something big to grab people’s attention.”

They focused on guerrilla marketing and designing an edgy product package. There’s also the name, which is designed to shock.

“Anybody in the bodybuilding or athletic community, they always kind of talk, like, ‘I want to get ripped,’” he said. “There are other guys who’ll talk about people that have great bodies, they’ll say, ‘Oh my god, that guy’s a freak!’ They want to become ripped freaks.”

Gauvreau said his company has created a superior product, partly because he and Savva are the target market.

“We are the consumer of our product, and we really create these products for ourselves and that’s why our products are so well-received,” he said. •