ViSalus Co-Founder Blake Mallen Promoted to President

The longtime head of sales and marketing at ViSalus, Blake Mallen, is stepping into an expanded role as President of the healthy lifestyle company.

Mallen founded the weight-loss shake and supplement seller in 2005 alongside company Chairman and CEO, Ryan Blair, and Global Ambassador, Nick Sarnicola. In 2008 the young executives struck a deal with Connecticut-based Blyth Inc., which acquired a 43.6 percent stake in ViSalus and brought crucial infrastructure and operational expertise to the business. The partnership lasted until late 2014, when the trio and a handful of other preferred stockholders bought back all the shares that Blyth owned, minus 10 percent.

In 11 years at the company, Mallen has spent time working in the field as a ViSalus Promoter, as well as building the business from the corporate side. As Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, he crafted a marketing strategy, centered on the Body by Vi 90 Day Challenge, that powered more than 600 percent sales growth in a single year. Mallen also has been instrumental in building a global infrastructure that has enabled ViSalus to expand recently into 12 European countries, building on its operations in the U.S., Canada and Jamaica.

“Blake has been a vital asset to the creation and evolution of ViSalus, and I’m honored to be handing off the presidential reins to my fellow co-founder and longtime right hand,” said Blair. “He possesses a rare blend of creative and innovative passion, with the ability to execute with precision. I look forward to partnering with him to bring even more Vi innovations to life so that we continue to provide our Promoters with the ultimate entrepreneurial vehicle for success.”

In the past 14 months, ViSalus has expanded its product portfolio with the launch of NEON Energy Drink, Nutra-Bar and Vi Bites healthy snack offerings, and the newly introduced Vi Shape Superfood Shake. The company reports that sales of NEON, launched in the U.S. in April 2015, have surpassed $5 million. According to a Wednesday announcement from ViSalus, the company commenced international distribution of the energy drink at its EU Leadership Launch, held last week in London.


ViSalus Co-Founder Endows $200K to Entrepreneurial Program

A recent donation from ViSalus Co-Founder Nick Sarnicola and his wife, Ashley, will support up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Sarnicola’s native Michigan.

Through their Next Generation Entrepreneurs (NextGEn) Foundation, the philanthropic couple has provided a $200,000 permanent endowment to the Muskegon Community College Entrepreneurial Studies program. The fund will supply a $10,000 annual award to graduates of the program.

The Sarnicolas’ gift goes hand-in-hand with a contribution from longtime friend and local real estate developer Jonathan Rooks, who donated the downtown Muskegon Masonic Temple building for the program’s use. The facility is slated to re-open by fall 2017 as the Rooks Sarnicola Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

“Jon and Nick are making history at MCC with these incredibly generous gifts,” Tina Dee, Director of the Foundation for Muskegon Community College, said in a statement. “The total value of $550,000 is larger than any other single past contribution and will have an enduring and positive impact on our students and the greater community we serve.”

The Sarnicolas, who travel the world as Global Ambassadors for ViSalus, set up the NextGEn Foundation to provide scholarships, seed capital and mentoring for budding entrepreneurs.

ViSalus Expands On-the-Go Offerings with NEON Energy Drink

ViSalus is adding to its portfolio of nutritious, on-the-go snacks with another strategic acquisition, this time in the booming energy drink category.

At its National Success Training event in Florida earlier this month, the healthy lifestyle brand introduced independent Promoters to its latest offering, NEON Energy Drink, acquired in a January deal with Altairia Corp. NEON is the creation of Altairia President and CEO Dakota Rea, who has since become a ViSalus Promoter.

The company’s national event also featured a birthday bash celebrating 10 years in business. The past year has been an eventful one for ViSalus. In September, co-founders Ryan Blair, Blake Mallen and Nick Sarnicola led a management buyout to regain ownership of the company from Blyth Inc., which now holds just 10 percent of ViSalus common stock.

Discussing the deal with DSN, Mallen said the brand will maintain its original product strategy of becoming the “largest healthy fast food provider in the world.” With that aim ViSalus has expanded its product portfolio of nutritious shakes and cereals with the acquisition of Go Bites, tweaked and launched in September as the Vi Bites line, as well as NEON Energy Drink.

Energy drinks are a hot commodity, with industry sales of $27.5 billion in 2013, according to market research firm Euromonitor. Global sales skyrocketed 620 percent from 1999 to 2013, and sales of energy drinks are rapidly approaching the level of coffee sales in the U.S.

With the launch of a decidedly global product, ViSalus sees an opportunity to build its international markets. NEON has at least one factor setting it apart from the competition: the drink earned its name from the glow it emits under black light, due to an element found in the South American Cinchona tree.

‘All In’ for the Third Time: ViSalus Co-Founder Blake Mallen Talks

by DSN Staff

Click here to order the October 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

On Sept. 2, Greenwich, Connecticut-based Blyth Inc. announced that the company had reached an agreement to sell the majority of its ViSalus subsidiary to the founders and certain other preferred stockholders of ViSalus. They completed the transaction, which involved exchanging shares of redeemable convertible preferred stock of ViSalus for shares of ViSalus common stock, on Sept. 4. Blyth now owns approximately 10 percent of ViSalus. DSN sat down with Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of ViSalus Blake A. Mallen to discuss the deal. Here’s what he had to say.

DSN: Start at the beginning for us. This is quite a transaction. How did it all come about?

BAM: Yes, it’s obviously a big move. We think the ViSalus story is made up of three big “All In” moments. In the beginning, it was definitely kind of an “All In” spirit that gave rise to the company back in 2005. Nick (Sarnicola), Ryan (Blair) and I took all the money we had back then and acquired the assets of a failing company and birthed the idea of ViSalus and our mission. We had very humble beginnings—about 18 months or so without a single paycheck.

We had developed a great relationship with the Goergen family and Blyth when Nick, Ryan and I were still young executives in our mid-20s. By 2008, we felt that joining Blyth was the best move for ViSalus in order to provide a lot of the infrastructure and the operational expertise to help us accomplish what we wanted for the long term. So we created a partnership and a great relationship.

Shortly after we announced the deal with Blyth in 2008, the economy collapsed and Nick, Ryan and myself again took our last money that we had at the time to self-fund the company, and reinvent in 2009—our second “All In” moment. The irony is that this moment gave birth to the Body by Vi 90 Day Challenge, which is the brand that made us who we are today with the meteoric rise over the last few years.

Now we’re in a rebuilding and expansion mode, and we wanted to go all in again, so we approached Blyth a couple of months ago with the idea to buy back all the remaining shares that Blyth owned, minus 10 percent. They saw our passion, and they know we’re founders and ViSalus is our baby, and running it is something we want to do for life.

This last transaction is our third “All In” moment. Most of the transaction included money owed to us in the original agreement with Blyth. Basically, we walked away from it and rolled it back into the company. We took back, between us and our field, 90 percent of ViSalus. We’re all excited to have full ownership back and a new beginning and a new birth.

DSN: So when you look at that new beginning and new birth, how does this ownership change better position ViSalus?

BAM: Focus is probably the best word to use, and regaining the ability to put our resources 100 percent into … CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW

ViSalus Management Buyout Will Cut Blyth Stake to 10%

The co-founders of ViSalus will lead a management buyout of the weight-loss and fitness brand, according to a disclosed agreement with parent company Blyth Inc. Following Tuesday evening’s announcement, shares in Blyth jumped during pre-open trade and rose 36 percent on Wednesday to close at $9.07 per share.

Blyth first invested in ViSalus in August 2008, when it acquired a 43.6 percent stake in the company. Blyth currently holds an 80.9 percent ownership interest, while ViSalus’ co-founders and other preferred stockholders own the remaining 19.1 percent. In the announced transaction all preferred stockholders will exchange their shares for ViSalus common stock, relieving Blyth of its $143 million guarantee of the preferred stock.

ViSalus will revert to private ownership under co-founders Ryan Blair, Blake Mallen and Nick Sarnicola, as well as ViSalus employees and early stockholders, who will take on a 90 percent stake in the company. Blyth will remain an equity holder with 10 percent of ViSalus common stock.

“The co-founders and I are very excited to go ‘all in’ on a business that we started and the future prospects of which we believe in wholeheartedly. I am also personally grateful to the Goergens and to Blyth for nearly 10 years of mentoring and support,” ViSalus CEO Ryan Blair shared in a statement.

According to a recent announcement, ViSalus’ future prospects include an extensive leadership development program. The company has partnered with leadership expert, speaker and best-selling author John C. Maxwell to launch its Leadership & Influence Development (LID) program.

“I have had the opportunity to mentor ViSalus’ three founders, who each have unparalleled creativity, intelligence and leadership potential,” said Maxwell on the new collaboration. “It’s been a real joy to be able to pour my life into the Vi founders, whom I often affectionately refer to as the Three Musketeers.”

The LID program will develop top ViSalus Promoters through skills training and mentoring. The inaugural LID group, which will work directly with Maxwell and the founders over the course of a year, held its first of three annual meetings in Atlanta this June.

ViSalus CEO Featured in Upcoming Documentary

ViSalus Co-Founder and CEO Ryan Blair became a No. 1 New York Times best-selling author following the 2011 publication of Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain­. In the book, Blair shares his personal journey—from living as a young gang member in Los Angeles to eventually becoming a multimillionaire entrepreneur. Blair’s inspirational message is now coming to film audiences in “Nothing to Lose,” a new online documentary.
Some of Blair’s story takes place at ViSalus, where he has helped lead the company from near-bankruptcy following the 2009 fiscal crisis to sales of $1 billion as of this March. Blair and his co-founders, Blake Mallen and Nick Sarnicola, sold ViSalus to parent company Blyth Inc. in January 2012. ViSalus’ performance in 2012 earned it the No. 21 ranking on the DSN Global 100 list of the top revenue-generating companies in the world.

Those highs and lows follow upon many others recounted by Blair in the upcoming documentary. “Nothing to Lose” will premiere Dec. 12 on Blair, who has a son with autism, has announced that he will donate all proceeds to organizations, such as Autism Speaks, that support children with autism.

Read the full story from Upstart Business Journal.

ViSalus Expands Focus on Hispanic Consumers


Health and fitness company ViSalus has unveiled a major effort to improve programs and materials geared toward its Hispanic consumers. The company behind the Body by Vi 90-Day Challenge recently announced the expanded strategy at its national Vitality convention.

Collaborating with more than 5,000 of the company’s own independent promoters of Latino Heritage, ViSalus has taken a comprehensive approach to expanding its focus on the Latino market. The company’s new offerings include updated promotional materials to cross cultural and language barriers, a convenient cash payment solution, and plans to launch a multi-city Spanish-only Challenge Tour in Q3 2013.

Our July cover story explores the many ways that “Diversity = Opportunity” for today’s direct sellers. DSN spoke to Miriam Muléy, CEO of marketing consultancy and research company The 85% Niche LLC, who points out that “the Latino, African-American and Asian populations are responsible for more than 90 percent of the population growth in the United States, with annual buying power of almost $4 trillion.” That amounts to more economic buying power than Brazil, Russia and India combined.

ViSalus is tapping into a large segment of this potential buying (and selling) power with a greater focus on the 50 million U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent. The effort aligns the company’s commitment to helping people lose weight with an at-risk population.

“Hispanics are 1.2 times more likely to become obese than non-Hispanics,” said Nick Sarnicola, Co-Founder and Global Ambassador of ViSalus. “This is an important constituency for us, and we are excited to bring the Body by Vi Challenge to them to change more lives that are truly at risk.”

Read the full press release from ViSalus.

DSN Global 100 Profiles – 21 Through 30

Click here to order the June 2013 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


• Cover Story • 10 Things to Know • The List 
• Topping the Charts • Profiles • Celebration

• Leadership • Growth • Momentum

21. ViSalus (Blyth)

2012 Net Sales: $624 million
Country: USA

ViSalus is the company that markets the Body By Vi Challenge, the No. 1 personal weight-loss and fitness platform in North America. ViSalus is majority-owned by Blyth Inc.

2011 Rank: 47
2011 Net Sales: $231 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Wellness
Markets: 2
Salespeople: Not available
Employees: 487
Headquarters: Troy, Michigan
Executives: Ryan Blair, Nick Sarnicola and Blake Mallen
Year Founded: 2005
Stock Symbol: BTH—NYSE

22. ACN Inc.

2012 Net Sales: $582 million
Country: USA

ACN is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications, energy and other essential services people use every day, including phone service, wireless, natural gas and electricity, high-speed Internet, and home security and automation.

2011 Rank: 19
2011 Net Sales: $550 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Telecommunications, energy
Markets: 23
Salespeople: 200,000
Employees: 1,500
Headquarters: Concord, North Carolina
Executives: Robert Stevanovski, Greg Provenzano, Tony Cupisz and Mike Cupisz
Year Founded: 1993

“The DSN Global 100 is truly the benchmark for our industry, further proving that our industry has stood the test of time and continues to remain relevant even in our constantly changing world. For ACN, operating in this space has always been a tremendous privilege and blessing for us, and certainly ranking among the Top 100 direct sales companies—the best of the best in the world—is an incredible honor.”
—Greg Provenzano, Co-Founder and President, ACN

23. Scentsy Inc.

2012 Net Sales: $560 million
Country: USA

Scentsy Group is a rapidly growing, international party-plan company dedicated to creating a social shopping experience that gives Consultants and customers variety, value and a level of personalization they can’t find anywhere else. Scentsy Inc. owns a family of brands, including Scentsy Fragrance, Velata and Grace Adele.

2011 Rank: 20
2011 Net Sales: $537 million
Sales Method: Party plan and group sales
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Clothing and accessories, cosmetics and personal care, food and beverage, home décor, kitchenware and appliances
Markets: 5
Salespeople: 218,159
Employees: 1,046
Headquarters: Meridian, Idaho
Executives: Orville and Heidi Thompson
Year Founded: 2004

24. Hermes

2012 Net Sales: $550 million
Country: Brazil

Hermes is a 70-year-old, family-owned company that has been focusing on the direct sales channel since 1989. Over 15,000 SKUs are sold in the channel, including apparel, household utilities, bedding, kitchenware, cosmetics, bijouterie and lingerie. The company has over 600,000 sales consultants all over Brazil.

2011 Rank: N/A
2011 Net Sales: N/A
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Single-level
Products: Clothing and accessories, cosmetics and personal care, home décor, kitchenware and appliances, home care, leisure and educational
Markets: 1
Salespeople: 600,000
Employees: 1,500
Headquarters: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Executive: Gustavo Bach
Year Founded: 1942

25. WIV Wein International AG

2012 Net Sales: $539 million
Country: Germany

WIV Wein is a direct seller of wine, providing at-home wine tastings for customers. The company has its own estates and cellars, and forms partnerships with top-quality wineries. Its largest markets are Germany, France, Great Britain, Japan, the United States and Italy.

2011 Rank: 33
2011 Net Sales: $365 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Not available
Products: Wines
Markets: 23
Salespeople: 4,000
Employees: 1,511
Headquarters: Burg Layen, Germany
Executives: Andreas Pieroth, Dr. Johannes Pieroth and David Samuel
Year Founded: 1965

26. AmorePacific

2012 Net Sales: $520 million
Country: South Korea

AmorePacific was founded by Sung-Whan Suh, who believed Jeju Island off the coast of Korea was an optimal environment for growing the most powerful and potent green tea. AmorePacific is the only cosmetics company in the world to grow and harvest its own green tea, which is then used in its skin-care formulas. The company holds over 140 global patents in green tea and skin-related technology.

2011 Rank: 16
2011 Net Sales: $600 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Not available
Products: Cosmetics, personal care, health and wellness
Markets: 3
Salespeople: Not available
Employees: Not available
Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
Executive: Kyung-Bae Suh
Year Founded: 1945
Stock Symbol: 090430—Korea

27. Market America Inc.

2012 Net Sales: $505 million
Country: USA

Market America is a product brokerage and Internet marketing company that specializes in one-to-one marketing. The company has generated over $4.3 billion in accumulated retail sales through its international operations in the United States, Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, the United Kingdom and Mexico.

2011 Rank: 25
2011 Net Sales: $462 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Single-level
Products: Cosmetics, personal care, food and beverage, home care, leisure and educational, services, wellness
Markets: 7
Salespeople: 180,000
Employees: 700
Headquarters: Greensboro, North Carolina
Executive: JR Ridinger
Year Founded: 1992

28. The Pampered Chef Ltd.

2012 Net Sales: $500 million
Country: USA

The Pampered Chef sells more than 500 gourmet kitchen tools, cookware, cookbooks and foodstuffs. Founded in 1980, Pampered Chef was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett, in 2002.

2011 Rank: 22
2011 Net Sales: $500 million
Sales Method: Party plan
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Cookware, kitchenware
Markets: 5
Salespeople: 65,000
Employees: 800
Headquarters: Addison, Illinois
Executive: Marla Gottschalk
Year Founded: 1980
Stock Symbol: BRK-A—NYSE

29. For Days Co. Ltd.

2012 Net Sales: $445 million
Country: Japan

For Days sells cosmetics and nutritional products that focus on beneficial nucleic acids as well as scientific research and development and testing.

2011 Rank: 29
2011 Net Sales: $400 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Personal care, cosmetics
Markets: 1
Salespeople: 288,000
Employees: 187
Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan
Executive: Keiko Wada
Year Founded: 1997

“It is an honor to be recognized in the DSN Global 100 ranking. From the time our company was founded, we have always placed a high value on building person-to-person relationships. We firmly believe that the direct selling industry is a place where all those involved are able to continue to build stronger relationships with those around them. ”
—Keiko Wada, CEO, For Days Co. Ltd.

30. Southwestern

2012 Net Sales: $427 million
Country: USA

Southwestern is the oldest direct selling company in the United States. The company has 12 divisions, including Southwestern Advantage, which helps college students run their own businesses during their summer breaks to offset their educational expenses.

2011 Rank: 34
2011 Net Sales: $353 million
Sales Method: Person-to-person
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Family-oriented educational reference books and software
Markets: 3
Salespeople: 2,800
Employees: 1,199
Headquarters: Nashville, Tennessee
Executive: Henry Bedford
Year Founded: 1855

ViSalus Co-Founder Donates $1 Million to Support Entrepreneurship

Nick Sarnicola, Co-Founder and Global Ambassador of ViSalus™, has pledged $1 million to the Sarnicola Foundation to support young, aspiring entrepreneurs.

Sarnicola grew up in a blue-collar, middle-class family in Grand Rapids, Mich., and was exposed to entrepreneurship at a young age. While building a national salesforce for a telecommunications company, Sarnicola found his calling to inspire young adults to follow the path of entrepreneurship.

After co-founding ViSalus with Ryan Blair and Blake Mallen, Sarnicola’s passion for encouraging this career path carried over, and he created the Sarnicola Foundation in 2011 with his wife, Ashley Sarnicola. The mission of the foundation is to foster entrepreneurship by providing mentorship, scholarships and funding to young aspiring entrepreneurs.

Founded in 2005 with headquarters in Los Angeles and Troy, Mich., ViSalus is the company behind the Body by Vi™ Challenge, a 90-day health transformation platform. ViSalus™ is majority owned by Blyth Inc.

Click here to see all February 2013, New In Brief