It was eminently apparent last Wednesday how Twitter has helped transform product marketing when Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari sent a tongue-in-cheek message to his followers that played off his Italian accent. The viral video that accompanied his tweet, in which he bluntly seems to offend a reporter in a mock interview, formed the first word on a new dietary supplement produced by Purebrands, LLC called Sheets energy strips.
The product, co-founded by entrepreneur Warren Struhl and Marquis Jet Partners co-founder Jesse Itzler, is a caffeine-filled dissolvable strip that gives people an energy boost similar to that of premium coffee. The inclusion of vitamins E, B6 and B12 and the absence of any sugars or calories in the energy strips are intended to give consumers a healthy alternative to sugary energy drinks and energy bars.
"We realized there was an opportunity in the energy category," Struhl said during a phone interview with The Life. The idea for Sheets was formed around November 2009 when Itzler and Struhl began trying to figure out a new delivery system for energy products. Itzler consulted Miami Heat forward and Marquis Jet customer LeBron James for his likes and dislikes of energy products. James was enamored with the dissolvable strip concept; he and his business partner, Maverick Carter, soon became Sheets co-founders. Itzler then went to New York Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire with the idea for his take; Stoudemire called it a "game changer," and he became an investor and early endorser.
Struhl explained Sheets will begin shipping nationwide the third week of May to its launch partner, GNC, and to 25,000 to 30,000 smaller format stores that sell energy products. Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and musicians Pitbull and Drake are also involved as endorsers in what will be a $10 million marketing campaign, according to a media release.
Stoudemire spoke with The Life to explain why he chose to invest in Sheets as well as to discuss details of his new clothing line with fashion designer Rachel Roy and how he'll save money in case an NBA lockout comes to fruition.
The Life: Why did you choose to be part of this product?
Stoudemire: I've been knowing Jesse for a while now, and we have a few other companies that we're involved with. He brought the idea to me, and I sat down at his place and put some thought into it. I thought it was a brilliant, brilliant game plan. So, I wanted to be part of it from that point on.
The Life: What have you previously used for energy during practice/games?
Stoudemire: I used energy drinks. A lot of times after using energy drinks … it is a drink, so it sits in your stomach for a while, which doesn't really feel as great. That's pretty much what I've used over the past few years to recuperate, is energy drinks.
The Life: How often do you use this?
Stoudemire: I use the strips now pretty much whenever. There's a lot of nutrients and vitamins in it but it also helps you with every type of recovery. Again, I use mine whenever, definitely before games and if I have a long day, I would take it away with me and pop one in whenever needed.
The Life: Did you talk to LeBron about this?
Stoudemire: I haven't talked to him. I let LeBron focus on basketball for the playoffs right now. But again, we are both involved in it and we're both excited about it.
The Life: Yeah, and the Galinari video got a lot of play via tweets about it.
Stoudemire: Yeah, that was funny. That was hilarious.
The Life: Do most guys in the league use some form of energy boost for practice/games?
Stoudemire: Yeah, everybody does it. Every player, from some magnitude, figures out how to gain some energy before games because it gets them going. This is a great product for pretty much all the players before games looking for energy. You can easily pop a sheet in and it takes about less than a minute to dissolve. And then you're good to go.
The Life: Have you tried to get any other teammates to use this?
Stoudemire: Oh, yeah. When Gallo was here, we both were taking it. Now, with the Knicks team … we're going to be taking sheets soon.
The Life: You're real active on Twitter. Is there any sort of game plan for you to promote this on there?
Stoudemire: It's kind of day-by-day. Whenever I do get the feel to want to tweet about it, then I will. Just to let the world know that sheets are the best energy thing going. So, I'll definitely tweet here and now about it.
The Life: I'm sure you've paid more attention to what you eat and what you put in your body as you've progressed in your career, right?
Stoudemire: Right. That's key. Right now, that's totally true because over the past few years I've been really focusing on eating right and staying healthy. This is another product that keeps you healthy and keeps you on that particular diet that you're after.
The Life: Let's talk about your upcoming clothing line with Rachel Roy. How did you come in contact with Rachel?
Stoudemire: Well, my company knew that I was very intrigued with fashion and wanted to get involved with fashion. And so what happened was my company set up a meeting with her company and we actually met, Rache and I. And once we met the chemistry grew from there. We started talking about different ideas. And we took it from there and it's grown.
The Life: What is it about Rachel's style that appeals to you?
Stoudemire: Well, I think the most appealing factor with her is she's been doing it for a long time now. She's very familiar with how the fashion world works and what it takes to design and draw sketches. With me, it was somewhat new to me. But she feels I have a keen eye for fashion and what looks good, so that makes the collaboration that much easier and also that much better.
The Life: How would you describe your style?
Stoudemire: My style is versatile. I'm a very slim guy, so I pretty much mix it up depending on the occasion. I think my swagger is more of a versatility type of fashion.
The Life: Being in Phoenix for so many years, you might be near the L.A. scene but it's not quite like being in New York. Has living here helped you gain more insight about the fashion industry?
Stoudemire: Well, no, I mean only if you get involved in the actual business of it then you learn more about fashion. When you don't get involved in the business aspect of it, you still can be fashion forward, which I was before I got here to New York. I think once you get into the business, you realize what it really takes to produce these products from the beginning.
The Life: What don't you see in the fashion world that you hope to bring out through this?
Stoudemire: Well, with me and Rachel we're doing women's apparel. Something that's gonna make them look sexy, smart and also comfortable going to sporting events.
[Stoudemire's phone cuts out, calls back]
I'm back, I had to go take a sheet. [Laughs]
The Life: What's the ultimate goal for this clothing line? To what degree would you like to expand it?
Stoudemire: Yeah, we're going to do this line first. The women's line for sporting events. We're going to go from there.
The Life: Are you plotting money management strategies with the possibility of a lockout looming over the NBA?
Stoudemire: Yeah, well I think the most important factor is we have plenty of time to know that there may be a lockout. So, a lot of guys should have started a saving type of plan. So, that's the first step is starting to save. The second step is to now go over your expenses, your budget and look at areas where you can cut back. There are some areas where you can't because you have mortgages and things like that. But there are some areas where you can cut back, with entertainment expense or your travel expense. Just try to figure out a way to save some money until we get back to work.
The Life: You think a lot of guys around the NBA understand that?
Stoudemire: I think guys are smarter now, hopefully, from the past history of us hearing about past players who've been very successful and who don't quite have the funds to live now. So, I think we should learn from the guys ahead of us. I think we have a smart league where guys are really taking advantage of money management.
Kyle Stack is a freelance writer in New York City who also contributes to ESPN The Magazine.