By: Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology
If anyone told Kyle Rood or Clint Mathews they’d be flipping waffles after graduating from the University of Missouri, they wouldn’t have believed it.
Matthews pursued a business degree receiving his MBA (master of business administration) when he met Rood, a biomedical engineer. Together they formed a medical-device startup, winning an Arch Grant in 2014. But when facing a long and expensive process for regulatory approval, they ended the business and went their separate ways.
Matthews went to work for a company that put him in the mix with Mizzou laboratories and researchers. That’s how he learned about a study involving a recipe for a high-protein Belgian waffle. This was the beginning of a series of events leading to the launch of their new company in 2015, Start Right Foods.
“He (Matthews) had a chance to meet researchers who had invented this recipe for a high protein waffle, and he told me about it and said we have to try these,” Rood explained.
“The main thing is that it increases you satiety or makes you feel fuller throughout the day,” said Matthews.
Referring to findings in the Mizzou study, Mathews said, “If you eat about 30 grams of protein for breakfast, you will consume about 400 less calories per day.”
“If you eat a high-protein breakfast, you stay fuller longer. You eat less calories throughout the day and you have less unhealthy snacking,” Rood explained. “Even over 13 weeks, their studies showed that you can reduce your body fat percentage.”
They launched Start Right Foods in St. Louis, boxing their frozen Belgian waffles to be sold in grocery stores. Starting with grocery chains in Missouri and Illinois, their goal is for Start Right to become a household name nationwide.
Each waffle has 15 grams of protein and is gluten-free.
“Our waffles are packed with egg and dairy proteins, so they have essential amino acids, really like a complete breakfast. And all you have to do is pop them in the toaster,” said Rood. “That’s because there are fruits and vegetables in the recipe and it’s a good source of fiber. So you’re getting all the things you need in a meal, in one easy and convenient product.”
Start Right now has products in over 700 stores throughout the United States. Their frozen waffles are available locally, and their new waffle sliders are available nationally. With the new waffle sliders, the entrepreneurs are offering 19 grams of protein. They are boxing sausage and egg sliders, as well as turkey sausage and egg white sliders.
Sprouts Farmers Market recently picked up Start Right’s waffle sliders to stock nationwide.
“The addition of Sprouts is both a validation of our company mission and products, as well as the big break to transform our company from a small startup to a scaling business,” said Rood. “We’ll be able to hire more full time personnel, expand our product portfolio and better reach our target consumers. “
The co-founders recently expanded, by scaling up operations in an office-warehouse space in Ballwin, Missouri. The video in the HEC Media story was shot at their St. Louis location in 2017. Then by the end of 2017, the co-founders built their own manufacturing line in Ballwin. Rood said they now have a custom waffle-making machine that is leaps and bounds beyond the home-kitchen-size waffle irons used when they began the business.
“Clint and I have been hard at work for half of the past decade building this brand and its products. And this year we have the chance to share our hard work with people from coast to coast. It also gives us the chance to deepen our local partnerships in the community, which is the most rewarding part of our jobs,” said Rood. “For our consumers in St. Louis, it gives us the chance to improve and innovate. We’re hard at work on new products and flavors that stay true to our mission of providing a protein-packed breakfast on-the-go.”