The Body by Vi™ Challenge: an idea that transformed a company and hundreds of thousands of lives.
ViSalus was born a different company than the one you see thriving worldwide today. The company has grown up. Once the new kids on the block with a fresh take on the industry, today they’re seen as visionaries, and they’ve flourished as network marketing pioneers.
A flash of marketing brilliance born in days of national economic turmoil has transformed ViSalus into one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. The transformative tool: the Body by Vi™ Challenge.
A Vision Is Born
The ViSalus™ story started with three 20-something entrepreneurs from very different walks of life whose futures will now be forever linked. Ryan Blair grew up in a family of addiction and followed the wrong path as a youth. Nick Sarnicola was once a collegiate athlete and salesman; Blake Mallen, a student body president and triple-major top university graduate.
Despite their varied backgrounds, all three men were successful entrepreneurs by the time their paths crossed in 2005. They united their complementary skill sets and passion for health and fit-ness with a mission to impact Life, Health & Prosperity.
Soon ViSalus™ was born.
Recognizing the wellness revolution that was about to ensue, the trio partnered with Dr. Michael Seidman, who had spent his life perfecting an anti-aging and energy system.
The first few years were committed to putting together the nuts and bolts of ViSalus. New products were launched, such as the Vi-Shape® Nutritional Shake mix, and key executives who had managed multibillion-dollar companies were hired to prep the company for a future of rapid growth and in-ternational expansion. And the founders invested heavily in systems and technology that would help propel them as industry frontrunners.
With everything in place, they caught the eye of Blyth Inc., a well-respected holding company. Blyth took an interest in ViSalus, and in 2008, invested in the company. Blyth added ViSalus to its billion-dollar résumé, tabbing it as their much-anticipated venture into the booming health and wellness market. It was a perfect partnership.
“We were experiencing consistent growth month after month and everything was coming together,” recalls Mallen. “Becoming a part of the Blyth family gave us the backbone we needed to go big. We felt bulletproof.”
Unfortunately, the feeling was fleeting.
From Recession to Reinvention
Within 60 days, everything had changed. The U.S. economy suffered a monumental collapse, send-ing everything ViSalus had built into question. The nation was now fighting to survive day to day.
“We got hit hard like many others did by the downturn in the economy,” says Co-Founder and at the time Chief Sales Officer Nick Sarnicola. “It knocked us off our feet and forced us to take a hard look at everything we were doing.”
The market had dramatically shifted, and the strategy that got ViSalus where it was would no longer work in this new economy. Before they knew it, the ViSalus founders were staring at a sober-ing reality: In order to continue to support the Community behind the ViSalus mission, something needed to change quickly.
The founders took their executive team and went into months of analysis in order to create a model that would resonate with the current consumer—and mature in the new economy.
“We weren’t about to go quietly into the night like so many other companies had,” Blair says. “I’m the type that likes to go out swinging, and we still had a lot of fight left in us. So did our Commu-nity.”
A Total Transformation
At a company Vitality event, Blair’s mentor—Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Dale Brown—challenged him onstage to take a 12-month fitness challenge. Instantly Blair and his Co-Founders knew they had discovered something special.
The new direction was clear: the Body by Vi™ Challenge.
It was an extreme makeover, and a huge risk, but ViSalus completely reinvented its platform to be-come the Body by Vi™ Challenge in July of 2009—and they haven’t looked back since.
Premium products were placed into different types of Challenge Kits, each tailored to match a vari-ety of weight-loss and fitness goals. Distributors were now Promoters—Promoting the Challenge, setting 90-day goals and striving to achieve those goals with their friends.
It was simple, it was natural, and the Community embraced it immediately. Hundreds of people per month were joining the Challenge. Soon, that number passed 1,000 a month, and the momentum had begun.
Hotel-based business opportunity meetings were replaced with simple home Challenge Parties. People now came out to try the products and learn about the Challenge in a relaxed, casual envi-ronment. Suits and ties gave way to jeans and sport coats.
“We finally became who we are,” Sarnicola says, “and stopped trying to be like everybody else.”
Fast-forward to 2012, with monthly sales surpassing $30 million a month, and more than 3,000 people a day joining the Body by Vi™ Challenge. It’s safe to say that pretty much everyone is up for the Challenge. C
It was an extreme makeover, and a huge risk, but ViSalus completely reinvented itself to become the Body by Vi™ Challenge in July of 2009—and they haven’t looked back since.
Part of the Blyth Family
A vital player in the story of ViSalus™ is Blyth Inc., whose investment in ViSalus™ and mentorship has proven invaluable in the growing success of both companies.
At the helm of Blyth is entrepreneurial icon and renowned philanthropist Robert B. Goergen Sr., the namesake of the Goergen Entrepreneurial Management Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School. He now sits on the ViSalus Board of Directors, along with his sons Robert Jr. and Todd.
Its affiliation with Blyth gives 6-year-old ViSalus the stability of a company with a much longer his-tory. ViSalus has become one of the strongest performers in Blyth’s family of companies.
“Because they’re part of our team, we’ve learned a lot about successfully scaling, growing and run-ning a business,” CEO Ryan Blair says. “Their knowledge and guidance gives us a very efficient busi-ness model. As a result of being able to leverage the Blyth expertise and infrastructure, we can focus on delivering the highest value possible for Body by Vi™ Challenge Promoters everywhere.”