A new company started by a Plattsburgh native is off to a promising start.
Gus Rietsema is a founder and chief executive officer of MacroFuel, a nutritious, drinkable meal alternative.
The Cornell University senior and his partners launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $15,000 on Aug. 24. They reached that goal Friday afternoon.
They are now expanding to a Kickstarter Stretch goal of $30,000 by the end of the campaign on Sept. 23.
“We’d love to get more backers,” Rietsema said.
The idea germinated last fall as he worked as deputy finance director for the Aaron Woolf for Congress campaign.
The long hours traversing the huge congressional district were making it hard for the fitness-conscious Rietsema to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet.
He tried various nutritious meal alternatives but was unhappy with some of the ingredients and the taste that many offered.
“I thought there’s got to be a easier way to get good nutrition,” he said.
When he returned to his studies at Cornell University, Rietsema decided to see if he could come up with something better.
He collaborated with Max Tave, a recent graduate of the school’s Hotel Administration Program, who is now MacroFuel chief marketing officer.
Tave knew Charles Lee, a doctoral candidate in Cornell’s Food Science Program and now chief science officer for the startup company.
Lee told the partners he could come up with a product that tasted better, mixed better and used natural ingredients so it was nutritious and healthier.
The product he developed is a mix of barley, granulated honey, oats, sorghum, millet, red bean and black, brown and white rice in powdered form.
It is most commonly mixed with water but can also be used with milk, juice or even be added to a smoothie.
Each serving provides 25 grams of protein, 41 grams of complex carbohydrates, 15 grams of simple carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber and 24 different vitamins and minerals.
Rietsema is a 2011 graduate of Plattsburgh High School.
His father, Dr. Wouter Rietsema, is an infectious-disease specialist and chief information officer at University of Vermont Health Network, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, while his mother, Loretta Rietsema, is founder of the Mary DeVeau Sober Living House in Plattsburgh.
Gus Rietsema attended SUNY Plattsburgh for one year, then took a semester off to work on Congressman Bill Owens’s re-election campaign.
He transferred to Cornell University in January 2013, where he majors in industrial and labor relations. His studies continued until he worked on the Woolf campaign from November to March.
“Those were some of the best experiences of my life because it taught me what it means to work hard,” Rietsema said, adding he has relied on that experience as he and his partners launch their new venture.
There are other Plattsburgh connections in the new venture. Rietsema said Marne Pike is their digital strategist, and Jeff Donlan created their Kickstarter video.
The partners have lined up well-established suppliers for all of their ingredients. They expect to fill all of the orders from the Kickstarter campaign by the end of November.
AWED BY SUPPORT
He plans to work on this for at least the next few years, but Rietsema’s love of politics may lead him back in that direction at some point in the future.
The support and rapid success of the Kickstarter campaign has been amazing, he said.
That’s especially true of the support that has come from those in the Plattsburgh area, which has been the most supportive region during the fundraising campaign.
“When you do something yourself and see people support it, that’s pretty humbling,” he said.