What started as a passion project for senior finance major Brendan Cummins during his sophomore year, has developed into a full-time job. Cummins owns and operates PmProtein, which sells protein bars and pre-workout “cracked candies” with melatonin.
When he was in sixth grade, Cummins was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease–an inflammatory bowel disease that interfered with his sleep schedule. Ever since then, a passion for nutrition has been instilled into his day-to-day life.
From reading countless nutrition and supplement labels, to cooking more of his own meals, Cummins gained a greater understanding of the things he was putting into his body. However, despite his newfound interest in nutrition, he had immense trouble falling asleep every night.
“I would lift or exercise late at night and take maybe 300 to 400 milligrams of caffeine and I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep until about three in the morning,” Cummins said.
Cummins’ challenge with falling asleep, combined with his passion for nutrition, sparked an entrepreneurial idea that led to the foundation for his business.
His protein bar, which is sold in over 24 gyms in South Florida, is the only one of its kind on the market. The bar has melatonin in it and is designed to help consumers fall asleep on a full stomach.
“He’s been very determined to get [PmProtein] off the ground and running,” said junior business administration major at the University of Richmond and brother Chase Cummins. “He’s hardworking, determined and does a lot of research. It’s definitely a topic that he’s very passionate about and that definitely shows.”
Cummins started researching protein bars his sophomore year and set up the legal entity for his company during his junior year. He did most of the work entirely on his own.
“It’s extremely stressful,” Cummins said. “Almost every single day it’s guaranteed that there’s some fire that needs to be put out.”
A notable challenge for Cummins arose one week before the launch of his bars. The manufacturer that he had been working with ended up not being able to legally produce the protein bars and Cummins had to find a new manufacturer.
Despite the struggles Cummins faces with PmProtein, the bars and candy have been gaining more success, specifically at UM. Both products are sold at The Market, which Cummins said is one of the most popular locations for sales.
“I go to the market and buy his sour candy,” senior biology major Aravind Meyyappan said. “I personally don’t lift, but I like to start my day with it.”
Whether it be through social media, cold selling or tabling events, Cummins is dedicated to increasing PmProtein’s popularity. While Cummins is investing before profiting, he can see the potential for growth in the future.
“My objective is to get my input cost to about $1.20,” Cummins said. “Once I hit that mark, I’ll be more attractive to consumers and that’s when food and beverage products really begin to explode.”
Cummins’ is also a big motivator for students like Meyyappan at UM.
“A lot of times, you’ll see people going out, having fun around the UMiami campus,” Meyyappan said. “There are a lot of days when a lot of people are doing different things and [Cummins is] just sitting there and he’s gonna work. That’s really inspiring to me because you don’t see a lot of people that have the drive, have the motivation to come up with an idea and then produce results.”
Upon graduation, Cummins hopes to dedicate more time into building PmProtein. He is also considering a career in investment banking or venture capitalism, as he has gained a lot of experience in those fields through running his own company. What he will put the most focus into depends on how his business picks up.
“It’s a big gamble,” Cummins said. “But I’ve learned significantly more than I think I’ve ever learned in my life and I’m learning so much every single day just because there’s a lot at stake to where I can’t afford to fail.”
Students can purchase PmProtein bars and cracked candy at pmprotein.com and The Market on campus.