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It’s Time for A Sex-Specific Approach

Energizing active women to run the world, with sports nutrition that’s honestly good.

$3,190
pledged of$30,000 goal
29
13Days Left
Fund it
Campaign Ends on April 24, 2024

Project Description

Levelle Nutrition fills the current sports nutrition gender gap by providing clean-label, high quality, delicious nutrition products formulated for the female physiology and safe for women at any age and lifecycle stage.   

 

Our real-food, vegan energy gels are made with 100% organic, low- and mid-glycemic ingredients for a steady state of energy. Strong enough to fuel a marathon, they’re smooth enough to snack on. And, with no artificial ingredients, no added sugars and no caffeine, there’s less chance of gastrointestinal distress.   

  

Women should be able to pursue their passions at any age or stage of life, without compromising their health, and sports nutrition should be a help, not a hinderance. Levelle is more than a brand; it's a commitment to fuel women's lives with clean, real-food nutrition that tastes great and feels right.

 

Our Campaign

 

THREE'S COMPANY: Funding will go toward 1) scaling our manufacturing, 2) updating our packaging, and 3) marketing, marketing, marketing.

 

Statistics tell a stark tale - women-owned businesses secure a mere 1.9% of venture capital funding, a number that dwindles further for minority women-owned startups. Meanwhile, as tech and other industries secure funding with prototypes and napkin sketches, “early-stage” investment in Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG) companies like ours usually requires a minimum revenue of $1 million. Finally, we can’t count the number of times we have been asked “Do that many women really play sports? What about a product line for men?”  

 

In general, your support would be going to a minority, women-owned startup that focuses on a long-overlooked group of customers. In particular, your funding will help us:   

 

  • Scale up our manufacturing: Quality ingredients cost money, and our packaging process is not easy to farm out (entry level machines cost $100K). Luckily, we have found a willing manufacturing partner and a community focused fulfillment and distribution partner. Your support will not only fuel Levelle's growth but will also provide meaningful employment in the greater Rochester area and the Hudson Valley.  

  • Re-envision our packaging: Our clean-label products are premium and deserve packaging that reflects the same aesthetic. However, due to some of the manufacturing processes (and some of our own demands – no sharp corners!), we need to print on high-barrier, complex films. This fundraise will be going toward both the visual design and a custom print run.   

  • Magnify our message: Building a brand is difficult in general, but particularly so when education is involved. Women’s bodies change monthly and as they age, and nutritional requirements change accordingly, yet this isn’t taught in schools. Meanwhile, under fueling – a major concern among female athletes, who are surrounded by inaccurate and dangerous messages such as “lighter is faster/healthier” or “carbs are bad” – can lead to severe health problems. Our products taste good and provide energy, but there’s even more that makes them great: low- and mid-glycemic index ingredients lead to a steady state of energy; organic, natural ingredients mean no concerns during pregnancy or while breast-feeding; and soluble fiber, antioxidants and no added manufactured sugars make digestion easier. People who try them (women AND men) love them, but the issue is getting product into hands. To that end, funds will go toward social media ads, influencer kits, event fees and sample products.

     

Our Story

 

SUPERWOMEN: We are so impressed by the women that continue pursuing their passions despite having to come up with fueling workarounds. To the mother that runs a marathon while breastfeeding to the woman who fuels trail runs with mashed potatoes in a ziplock baggie: we see you. 

 

Levelle Nutrition was the unanticipated result of interviewing more than 100 female endurance athletes. Initially a school project, it quickly became a passion project as we listened to woman after woman recount fueling flounders and fails. In their experience, sports nutrition caused both anxiety and physical pain. Even worse, nearly every single woman blamed her own body. 

 

 

“The goos turn my stomach and I can’t find something I can digest and have it settle nicely, but I can’t run on nothing. I’m still trying to figure it out. Multiple races I have thrown up, all based on nutrition.”

“I’ll take the goos and gels, but I hate the consistency. I only take it for the convenience and caffeine, and I have to back off before my stomach churns. The flavor and consistency need to match or it makes me gag.”

“I hate the gels. They’re loaded with sugar. They just sit in your stomach and the wheels come off halfway through the race.”

“Caffeinated gels are NOT good on a long run. You gotta poop tons.”

“I don’t use the gels, goos, caffeine, because my body isn’t used to it. Tons of synthetic weirdness.”

  

Evidence shows that there are physiological reasons why women have issues digesting the energy gels available in the market. But, since only 2.5% of sports nutrition products target women, and women are also often left out of sports and exercise research studies, we didn’t expect this to change anytime soon.   

  

After hearing these stories of pain and frustration, and seeing women be systemically ignored by the industry, we were ourselves angry and galvanized. But what really caught our hearts was the dedication, determination and passion that women devoted to their activities, despite the challenges they faced. It was that hope that decided for us: women deserve equal representation in sports nutrition, and someone had to fix it, so why not us?  

 

Our Team

 

A MATCH MADE IN CORNELL: Foreground: Dr. Linda Alvarez (Left) and Stephanie Schrauth (Right). Background: A successful manufacturing run at the Cornell Food Venture Center in Geneva, NY.

 

Linda Alvarez MD, MBA, co-founder and CEO, worked in the wellness space even before she became a doctor. She has over 10 years of experience in holistic wellness with a focus on nutrition and was recorded as one of the first students in the country to take a sabbatical during medical school to study complementary medicine, yoga and nutrition. Her medical training in family medicine only further prepared her to understand female athletes’ needs. She received her MBA from Cornell University in 2021.  

  

Stephanie Schrauth, MBA, co-founder COO, has been preparing to build a business that will improve the lives of women for most of her life. In a past life, she graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with a dual BA in Women's Studies and English. She’s used to being the odd-woman-out, working in construction, sports paraphernalia and software industries. In her most recent role, she was responsible for leading product development and innovation at a Siemens mobility technology company. She received her MBA from Cornell University in 2021.

 

Our Thanks

CREATING COMMUNITY: Our favorite thing to do is talk to women who have tried our product and hear their stories.

 

In an industry dominated by stereotypes and traditional norms, we are determined to create a space where every woman feels seen, heard, and empowered in her wellness journey. Every woman, whether she considers herself an athlete or not, deserves easy, healthy and delicious energy options. Your support is not just a contribution; it’s a catalyst for change. Join us in empowering women in all stages of life to pursue their passions. Whether she’s running a marathon or running a meeting, we fuel women to run the world. 

 

 

With our thanks and love,

Dr. Linda & Stephanie

Updates

The Campaign FAQs

Q: What's in this that makes it “for women”? 

 

It's less about what's in it, and more about what's not. We took out the high-glycemic sugars; the artificial ingredients, colors and flavors; and the preservatives. Our ingredients are all organic and vegan. We want women to feel safe consuming our products at any age or lifecycle stage, including while pregnant, breastfeeding or going through menopause. 

 

Q: Does sex matter? Why? 

 

Yep. Sex differences have been identified in every organ system and tissue. Meaning, a subject's sex matters, regardless of whether the subject is a cell, an animal or a human. Sex hormones have a significant influence on the body, affecting body composition, metabolism, brain function, disease and more. 

 

Additionally, gender matters. Societal norms and cultural expectations for men and women, as well as individual preferences can mean differences in goals, motivations and realities. If you’re running for “me time” or mental health, for example, extremely high-glycemic, additive-riddled gels that are targeted to help men go faster for longer aren’t at all what you want to consume. 

 

Q: OK, in particular, why do men and women need different fuel? 

 

Women and men utilize carbs, fats and proteins differently. Women oxidize proportionally less carbohydrates, more fats and less leucine (an amino acid) than men. Additionally, women can be more sensitive to glucose and have slower gastric emptying (the time it takes for food to move from the stomach to the small intestine). We think fuel should accommodate these differences. 

 

Further, women's hormones change both monthly and across the various lifecycle stages, including puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Additionally, hormone levels can be influenced by hormone-based contraceptives. We think all of those factors should be considered. 

 

Screenshot from a competitor website's FAQ.

 

For pregnant or breastfeeding women, many energy gels simply aren’t safe. That’s ridiculous – life doesn’t stop when you’re pregnant. Our focus on organic, real food, allergen-free ingredients allowed both of us to feed our purées to our pregnant sisters without fear. Stephanie’s sister even brought them to ultrasound appointments, because they helped get the baby moving.  

 

Q: What is the difference between an energy purée and an energy gel? 

 

The main differences between energy purées and energy gels lies in their consistency, composition and consumption: 

Consistency: As their name implies, energy gels have a gel-like consistency. Energy purées on the other hand, have a thicker and (minimally) textured consistency, since they are made from puréed fruits, vegetables and water. 

Composition: Energy gels are formulated to provide a concentrated source of high-glycemic carbohydrates, electrolytes, and sometimes caffeine. They are designed to be quickly absorbed and provide an immediate energy boost during intense exercise. Energy purees, on the other hand, are typically made from a blend of fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients. They provide a combination of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are also easy to consume, but take longer to digest, because they are made of real-food, complex carbs. Rather than a spike and a crash, they provide a more stable stream of energy. 

Consumption: Energy gels are primarily used by endurance athletes during prolonged physical activity. Energy purées are more versatile and can be used as a snack in addition to providing energy during physical activity. They are often consumed by individuals looking for a convenient and nutritious option to fuel their bodies or as a quick energy boost between meals. 

Q: On what research are your products based? 

 

Research is part of the problem. Women are underrepresented in sports and exercise research studies, comprising only 34% of participants. In sports performance supplement studies, they make up 23% of participants. Results from male-only studies are still frequently applied to women, despite known differences between the sexes. When women are included, results often aren't sex-disaggregated, meaning that female-specific nuances may be subsumed into the male "norm." Finally, studies often don't define the menstrual cycle, don't use best practices to assess menstrual status, and/or test women during the follicular phase, when their hormone levels are the lowest, i.e. they are "more like men.” 

 

We’ve formulated our products based on Linda’s experience as a physician alongside as many research papers as we can consume. The International Society of Sports Nutrition put together a position stand in March 2023 that compiles the evidence-based research on female athletes. (You can find that paper here).  

 

Meanwhile, we would LOVE to pursue our own research, but testing on humans requires going through the appropriate channels, as well as – of course – money. We did apply for a grant from the National Institute of Health’s Minority Health and Health Disparities department, but the response was they were currently only concerned with fertility studies. Therefore, so far we have had to limit ourselves to hedonic testing and customer feedback.  

 

 

Q: What happens if women don’t get sufficient nutrition? 

 

Whether due to misinformation about nutrition, societal pressures, insufficient research or other reasons, female athletes are prone to under consume calories, particularly carbohydrates. Some possible effects include: 

 

  • Low Energy Availability: Low energy availability (EA) occurs when there is an inadequate intake of calories to meet energy demands. Chronic low EA can have significant health and performance consequences. 47.3% of female athletes are at risk of low energy availability. 

  • Menstrual Dysfunction: Insufficient nutrition can lead to disruptions in the menstrual cycle, such as amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), oligomenorrhea (infrequent periods), or irregular menstruation. These irregularities can impact reproductive health. Research suggests that the prevalence of menstrual dysfunction in female athletes is as high as 60%. 

  • Low Bone Mineral Density: Under fueling can disrupt hormones which in turn can lead to rapid bone loss, inhibited bone regrowth, and increased risk of fractures. Women are at particular risk - they account for 80% of Americans with osteoporosis. 

 

 

 

Q: How are you specifically addressing women’s needs and wants? 

 

Based on our interviews, we identified and addressed the following: 

 

  • Attention to Ingredients: Women wanted more real food options and fewer low-nutrient calories. Common concerns centered on sugar content as well as artificial ingredients. That's why our energy purées are made solely from real food ingredients, with zero artificial ingredients and no added sugar. Our products are high in vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A. A pouch of Yes We Cran is equal to one serving of fruit, while a pouch of Strawberry Jams is equal to nearly two servings.  

  • Adherence to Dietary Restrictions: Women want their sports nutrition products to support their larger lifestyle. And they don't want to compromise while trying to pursue their passion. That's why our products are vegan and made with gluten-free ingredients. They also avoid the FDA's top 9 allergens.* 

  • Pregnancy and Post-Natal Activity: Women continue to be active during pregnancy and breast feeding, and they want products that are safe for both themselves and their baby. Mother Nature understands. That's why we use only real-food ingredients, all organic and non-GMO. 

  • Gut Health and Support: Nearly every woman we spoke with reported experiencing gastrointestinal distress as well as blood sugar spikes and crashes. That's why our products are made with low- and mid-glycemic complex carbs. These won't spike your blood sugar as much, and will provide energy for longer. Plus, the soluble fiber from fruits helps avoid extreme digestive conditions. Our purées are also free of maltodextrin, a common ingredient in energy gels, but one that has been shown to exacerbate gut inflammation in mice. 

  • Reasons for Sports Activity: Women participate in sports for a lot of reasons, but one we heard repeatedly was mental health and "me" time. Others included physical health, social connections, and achieving goals. What we didn't hear? Winning. That's why we aren't focused on performance or getting you stronger, better, faster. We want you to be your best, healthiest self, and we think that means quality ingredients, delicious taste, and the absence of intestinal stressors.  

Raymond Nelson
04/12/2024
Social Media Shoutout
$25
James Fester
04/11/2024
Social Media Shoutout
$25
Deborah Streeter
04/10/2024
5K Run: Levelle Nutrition Women's Tank
$100
Patty
04/02/2024
Monetary Contribution
$35
Tom Seymour
03/21/2024
Social Media Shoutout
$25
Susan Fleming
03/04/2024
Monetary Contribution
$100
Jermaine Kelly
02/28/2024
5K Run: Levelle Nutrition Women's Tank
$100
Jen Chiang
02/26/2024
Social Media Shoutout
$25
Rebecca Dengrove
02/26/2024
Social Media Shoutout
$25
Ashley Christensen
02/21/2024
Monetary Contribution
$200
Monetary Contribution

The amount is your choice. 

Funding of any amount is appreciated, and every contribution will help us at Levelle reach our goal.

🙌 ❤️ 🙌

6 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
Social Media Shoutout

We will shout your name from the top of Levelle Nutrition's Socials. Send us your handles for Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and we'll make sure to tag you, so you can prove to your friends how cool you are. Because supporting women-owned businesses and women's nutrition is ALWAYS a good look. 

Our gratitude runs deep.

5 Supporters
Select this reward
50.00 USD
Taste Tester

Calling all taste testers!  

Well... the first 10. Be among the very first to try our newest flavor, "Apple, Spice and Everything Nice" before it’s available to the public. 

Receive 2 pouches in March and get early access to pre-launch sales. 

We welcome your feedback and want to hear your thoughts on future flavors! 

6 Supporters
None available
Reward image
80.00 USD
On-The-Move: Tote and Tumbler

Some like it hot, others as cold as ice. How ever you enjoy your beverages, make a statement with your very own Levelle Nutrition tumbler! It’s as easy as sip, smile, repeat. And for our friends on-the-move, we added in our tote-ally cool Levelle Nutrition tote bag; because nothing is hotter than spreading the news - women deserve fuel formulated for their physiology. 

17 Left
3 Supporters
Select this reward
Reward image
100.00 USD
5K Run: Levelle Nutrition Women's Tank

This tank isn't just a wardrobe staple; it's a statement of empowerment. Flaunt your commitment to wellness with every workout, because when it comes to making gains, we've got you covered – literally. 

25 Left
5 Supporters
Select this reward
125.00 USD
10K Run: Levelle Nutrition T-Shirt

When it comes to nutrition, we wear it on our sleeves! Elevate your style and support your wellness journey with the Levelle Nutrition T-Shirt – available in both unisex and women's sizes for the perfect fit! Embrace comfort without compromising on style, because health-conscious living has never looked this good. 

40 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
Reward image
225.00 USD
Half Marathon: Track Jacket

We've got your back, literally! Pop your collar and stride confidently towards your goals with our Levelle Nutrition track jacket. But it doesn't have to be track: we know all sports are important, so feel free to select the sporty verb of your choice (i.e. dance, swim, bike, climb, box, row, etc)! Plus, the background for "A WOMAN" can be plain, metallic or glitter! (Ours have glitter because we love sparkle). Available in women’s and unisex sizing.  

18 Left
2 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
Marathon: Fuel the Fun Bundle

Unleash the ultimate Levelle Nutrition experience with our exclusive bundle! Score a stylish tote bag, a signature t-shirt in your choice of unisex or women's sizes, and an exclusive Levelle Nutrition sweatshirt to keep you cozy on your wellness journey. As a token of our gratitude, we'll shout out our appreciation on our social media accounts. Tell us your handles for Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, and we'll make sure to tag you, because showing your support to women-owned businesses and women's nutrition is ALWAYS a good look. 

8 Left
2 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Ultra: Go the Distance Bundle

Step into the Levelle Nutrition Hall of Fame with our Ultra Bundle! Run the extra mile with our exclusive lineup featuring a tumbler, tote bag, trendy t-shirt, sleek track jacket, and a variety pack of our energizing Nutrition Energy Purees.  But that's not all – by pledging, you're championing a cause close to our hearts: celebrating women's health with nutrition designed for their unique physiology. As a massive thank you, we'll shout your name on our Levelle Nutrition website and share the love on our social media accounts. 

5 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
2,000.00 USD
Sponsor an Athlete

Be a Game-Changer with our Sponsor an Athlete Reward! 🏅✨ Help athletes break financial barriers and fuel their dreams! Your pledge covers their race entry fee, decks them out in a stylish Levelle Nutrition t-shirt, and delivers 3 boxes of our energy-packed Purees to supercharge their training. Let's turn every stride into a leap towards victory – because empowering athletes should be as exhilarating as their finish line! 🚀 

5 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
5,000.00 USD
Purée Pioneer

Unleash your flavor genius with our 'Purée Pioneer' Reward! 🚀 Pledge now to inspire the next tantalizing taste of Levelle Nutrition Energy Purées. Join a brainstorming call with our flavor maestro and founder, Dr. Linda Alvarez – where your ideas will shape the future of delicious energy! As a bonus, we'll ship out exclusive samples for you to taste-test and provide input. Let's turn your flavor fancies into Purée perfection!

2 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward

About the Entrepreneur

Ithaca, NY
Created 2 Campaigns
Health + Science
Lifestyle

Rewards

Monetary Contribution

The amount is your choice. 

Funding of any amount is appreciated, and every contribution will help us at Levelle reach our goal.

🙌 ❤️ 🙌

6 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
Social Media Shoutout

We will shout your name from the top of Levelle Nutrition's Socials. Send us your handles for Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and we'll make sure to tag you, so you can prove to your friends how cool you are. Because supporting women-owned businesses and women's nutrition is ALWAYS a good look. 

Our gratitude runs deep.

5 Supporters
Select this reward
50.00 USD
Taste Tester

Calling all taste testers!  

Well... the first 10. Be among the very first to try our newest flavor, "Apple, Spice and Everything Nice" before it’s available to the public. 

Receive 2 pouches in March and get early access to pre-launch sales. 

We welcome your feedback and want to hear your thoughts on future flavors! 

6 Supporters
None available
Reward image
80.00 USD
On-The-Move: Tote and Tumbler

Some like it hot, others as cold as ice. How ever you enjoy your beverages, make a statement with your very own Levelle Nutrition tumbler! It’s as easy as sip, smile, repeat. And for our friends on-the-move, we added in our tote-ally cool Levelle Nutrition tote bag; because nothing is hotter than spreading the news - women deserve fuel formulated for their physiology. 

17 Left
3 Supporters
Select this reward
Reward image
100.00 USD
5K Run: Levelle Nutrition Women's Tank

This tank isn't just a wardrobe staple; it's a statement of empowerment. Flaunt your commitment to wellness with every workout, because when it comes to making gains, we've got you covered – literally. 

25 Left
5 Supporters
Select this reward
125.00 USD
10K Run: Levelle Nutrition T-Shirt

When it comes to nutrition, we wear it on our sleeves! Elevate your style and support your wellness journey with the Levelle Nutrition T-Shirt – available in both unisex and women's sizes for the perfect fit! Embrace comfort without compromising on style, because health-conscious living has never looked this good. 

40 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
Reward image
225.00 USD
Half Marathon: Track Jacket

We've got your back, literally! Pop your collar and stride confidently towards your goals with our Levelle Nutrition track jacket. But it doesn't have to be track: we know all sports are important, so feel free to select the sporty verb of your choice (i.e. dance, swim, bike, climb, box, row, etc)! Plus, the background for "A WOMAN" can be plain, metallic or glitter! (Ours have glitter because we love sparkle). Available in women’s and unisex sizing.  

18 Left
2 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
Marathon: Fuel the Fun Bundle

Unleash the ultimate Levelle Nutrition experience with our exclusive bundle! Score a stylish tote bag, a signature t-shirt in your choice of unisex or women's sizes, and an exclusive Levelle Nutrition sweatshirt to keep you cozy on your wellness journey. As a token of our gratitude, we'll shout out our appreciation on our social media accounts. Tell us your handles for Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, and we'll make sure to tag you, because showing your support to women-owned businesses and women's nutrition is ALWAYS a good look. 

8 Left
2 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Ultra: Go the Distance Bundle

Step into the Levelle Nutrition Hall of Fame with our Ultra Bundle! Run the extra mile with our exclusive lineup featuring a tumbler, tote bag, trendy t-shirt, sleek track jacket, and a variety pack of our energizing Nutrition Energy Purees.  But that's not all – by pledging, you're championing a cause close to our hearts: celebrating women's health with nutrition designed for their unique physiology. As a massive thank you, we'll shout your name on our Levelle Nutrition website and share the love on our social media accounts. 

5 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
2,000.00 USD
Sponsor an Athlete

Be a Game-Changer with our Sponsor an Athlete Reward! 🏅✨ Help athletes break financial barriers and fuel their dreams! Your pledge covers their race entry fee, decks them out in a stylish Levelle Nutrition t-shirt, and delivers 3 boxes of our energy-packed Purees to supercharge their training. Let's turn every stride into a leap towards victory – because empowering athletes should be as exhilarating as their finish line! 🚀 

5 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward
5,000.00 USD
Purée Pioneer

Unleash your flavor genius with our 'Purée Pioneer' Reward! 🚀 Pledge now to inspire the next tantalizing taste of Levelle Nutrition Energy Purées. Join a brainstorming call with our flavor maestro and founder, Dr. Linda Alvarez – where your ideas will shape the future of delicious energy! As a bonus, we'll ship out exclusive samples for you to taste-test and provide input. Let's turn your flavor fancies into Purée perfection!

2 Left
0 Supporters
Select this reward