By Pat Shaver

IOWA CITY—An Iowa City company is entering the highly competitive fitness beverage market.

Cardiostrong is a product under Kamath Biosciences, a sports nutraceuticals company based in Iowa City with more than 30 years of biotechnology experience. The product is an orange-flavored powdered mix. It is sold in boxes of 12 individual stick packs from the company’s e-commerce website, www.cardiostrong.co.

“We created a beverage that is scientifically-based that improves cardiovascular health. It turns out that the powdered sports drink industry tops out at $1.5 billion and is expanding at 8-10 percent annually,” said Anant Kamath, founder and CEO.

Cardiostrong was the featured startup company that presented at last week’s 1 Million Cups at the Iowa City CoLab. Anant Kamath, his brother Jay Kamath, co-founder and CEO, and Sara Ternes, chief operating officer, presented the product to a room of fellow entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

Cardiostrong is a patented blend of scientifically selected ingredients: four cardiac nutrients; two proteins; eight vitamins and four electrolytes. It has less than 1 gram of sugar and 10 calories per serving. It includes no caffeine or other stimulants.

“We went through an intense prototyping to get the taste right,” said Anant Kamath, who is chief operating officer at Iowa City-based Cellular Engineering Technologies.

The product contains B vitamins, vitamin C and folic acid to give cells energy, help maintain metabolism and keep up immunity. Cardiostrong also has a full set of electrolytes to keep athletes hydrated, refreshed and improve performance. Cardiostrong also contains multiple proteins for real-time energy generation and to address ligament/tendon wear during exercise and recovery.

“In our market research, we seem to be catering toward the high-performing athlete crowd,” Anant Kamath said. “We started about two-and-a-half months ago, so our revenue is very modest right now.”

Cardiostrong is suitable for anyone over 8 years of age and for diabetics. None of the nutrients are precursors of steroids or growth hormones and all ingredients in Cardiostrong are approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other major regulatory bodies.

“It gives you more endurance and more recovery and gives you better cardiac performance,” Mr. Kamath said.

They are focusing on people ages 40 plus who are looking for performance products that also promote improved health for several reasons: they may not know how to sort through the marketing hype; as they get older, their performance starts to decline; retiring boomers are the most fitness-aware generation in history; fitness is a means to a longer active life; and that age group is generally a more affluent purchaser.

“We are about 10 percent cheaper than what’s on the shelf right now. To get into a person’s sweet spot is very difficult,” Anant Kamath said.

Through the development of the product, everything has been self-funded. They are looking for capital to help push the company forward that would go toward staffing, marketing, development and contingency.

They have several more versions of the product in the works and are looking into developing gluten-free, dairy-free choices and adding more flavors. The goal is to get it on the shelves of local Hy-Vees and branch out from there, said Anant Kamath. They also hope to pair up with a semi-professional athlete for sponsorship opportunities.

“Our goal is to be a $20-$30 million player within five years and we think that’s achievable,” he said.