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.


NEON by ViSalus Sponsors ‘American Idol’ David Cook’s 34-City Tour

Photo: David Cook and Vi Promoters share a NEON Energy Drink backstage.

Weight-loss and fitness company ViSalus has teamed up with rocker David Cook in a large-scale promotion of its NEON Energy Drink. NEON is sponsoring the “American Idol” winner’s 2015 Digital Vein Tour and giving ViSalus Promoters a chance to win VIP concert tickets.

Since winning Season 7 of the popular singing competition, Cook has become a platinum-selling recording artist, known for hits like “Light On,” “Time of My Life” and his current single, “Criminals.” The tour featuring songs from his latest album, “Digital Vein,” runs from September to November.

ViSalus introduced NEON in April after acquiring the business from Altairia Corp. The product is billed as a good-tasting energy drink, with a proprietary blend of ingredients for energy and antioxidant support. NEON earned its name from the glow it emits under black light, due to an element sourced from the South American Cinchona tree. The Michigan-based company reports that NEON sales to date have topped $4 million.

“I’m so excited to partner up with NEON Energy Drink for my Digital Vein Tour,” Cook said in a statement. “The road can be grueling, so any chance to get an energy boost is welcome. NEON is a great-tasting alternative to other energy drinks. It’s my new go-to.”

Alongside its sponsorship of the Digital Vein Tour, ViSalus is rewarding qualifying Promoters with a VIP experience at the tour stop of their choice. In a statement, the company said more than 550 qualified for the offer, which includes two concert tickets with priority seating and the opportunity to meet Cook backstage.

ViSalus plans to continue offering its Promoters exclusive or “A-List” experiences built around the NEON brand, Vice President of Marketing John Laun told DSN. Earlier this year, ViSalus hosted a NEON A-List Party on July 4 in Malibu, California, and another on Labor Day in Miami.

“We’re always looking for premium experiences and brands to tie in to the product,” said Laun. “As more of these opportunities pop up I’m sure we’ll be throwing more A-List Parties and participating in events around the world, giving people the opportunity to experience these events who would have no way to go otherwise.”

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.

ViSalus Coordinates Group Workouts in Bid for World Record

ViSalus is helping people jumpstart their New Year’s health and fitness resolutions in a big way. On Jan. 3 at 12 p.m., the healthy lifestyle company is looking to set a record for the World’s Largest Simultaneous Group Workout.

Troy, Michigan-based ViSalus has invited individuals to participate by hosting or joining one of its Challenge Group events. The groups are forming across North America as well as Europe, where the company operates under the Vi brand. Challenge Group members will come together on Jan. 3 for a variety of activities oriented to people at all fitness levels.

The record would not be the first set by ViSalus, which teamed up with celebrity Alfonso Ribeiro in 2012 to perform the World’s Largest Simultaneous Flash Mob. The flash mob featured Ribeiro’s “Carlton” dance, named for his character on television’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The famous moves also helped Ribeiro and his partner, Witney Carson, win the latest season of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

In addition to gunning for a world record, the Challenge Groups will be sweating for a good cause. For every person who takes part, ViSalus has committed to donating 30 meals through its PROJECT 10 Kids program, which supplies Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Meals to children in need.

‘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

90 Days of Direct Selling – Day 15


Blyth Direct Sales Group

2013 Net Sales: $750 million

Country: USA

Blyth Inc. is a direct-to-consumer business focused on the direct selling and direct marketing channels through its PartyLite and ViSalus brands. It designs and markets candles and accessories for the home as well as health and wellness products, utilizing both the home party plan and the network marketing methods.


2012 Rank: N/A
2012 Net Sales: N/A
Sales Method: Party plan and group sales
Compensation Structure: Multi-level
Products: Cosmetics, personal care, home décor, kitchenware and appliances, home care, wellness
Markets: 21
Salespeople: 90,000
Employees: 1,250
Headquarters: Greenwich, Connecticut
Executive: Robert B. Goergen Jr.
Year Founded: 1973

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.

Blyth Appoints KWG Chief to Board of Directors

Blyth, parent company of direct selling brands PartyLite and ViSalus, recently made some changes to its board of directors. The Greenwich, Connecticut-based company announced the retirement of Neal I. Goldman and welcomed Jim Williams as its newest board member.

Goldman, President of investment advisory firm Goldman Capital Management, served as a Blyth director for 23 years. Williams is President, CEO and Managing Partner of Karlen Williams Graybill Advertising (KWG), whose clients include a number of Fortune 500 companies and some of the nation’s fastest growing business startups. He also owns a controlling interest in I.M. Productions and the communications business Better Brand Initiatives, licensor of the televised mini-show FYI Before You Buy.

“Jim brings leadership, strategy and a strong knowledge of marketing, social media and global consumer insight,” Blyth CEO Robert B. Goergen said in a statement. “I look forward to the new perspective that Jim brings to the company.”

Blyth operates in 21 countries through PartyLite, a designer and marketer of candles and accessories for the home, health and wellness brand ViSalus, and a handful of brands sold through the catalog/Internet channel. The company reported a rocky second quarter as sales continued to wilt, decreasing approximately 25 percent from the prior year period to $157.8 million. The weak performance was largely a result of declining salesforce numbers at ViSalus North America, said Goergen.

“ViSalus management is focusing on rebuilding the North American market through leadership development programs while right-sizing the cost structure in North America to regain profitability, as well as building their international business,” Goergen shared in the company’s financial release. “In the second quarter, ViSalus continued its geographic expansion initiatives, opening in Ireland, with two additional markets planned to open this year and an additional seven markets in 2015.”

Field Goals: ViSalus Brings Fitness Challenge to Youth Football Sponsorship

American Youth Football & Cheer Inc. (AYF) recently selected weight-loss and nutrition company ViSalus as its Official Nutrition and Wellness Sponsor.

AYF works within communities to train children in football or cheer, with a strong emphasis on positive traits like self-confidence, teamwork, self-discipline and community involvement. The organization, which often establishes programs where children cannot access them through the school system, serves more than 1 million members nationwide.

The sponsorship came about through a ViSalus National Director whose family participates in AYF. The organization’s team fundraisers presented an opportunity to educate players about healthy nutrition while furthering AYF’s mission. This year the athletes will cash in on personal health goals by selling ViSalus nutrition products, with proceeds benefitting the youth football and cheer programs.

ViSalus offers its users an added weight-loss incentive through the PROJECT 10 Kids program. The company’s trademark PROJECT 10 Challenge encourages customers to lose 10 pounds of fat or add 10 pounds of lean muscle. Every time a person meets the challenge, the company donates 30 of its Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Meals to a child in need.

ViSalus Co-Founder and CEO Ryan Blair recently spoke to Fast Company about his own youth and the mentors who helped him make the journey from gang member to successful serial entrepreneur. In 2013, Blair published his story in The New York Times bestseller Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I Went from Gang Member to Multimillionaire Entrepreneur.