Share this @internewscast.com
When Maria Shriver told her son Patrick Schwarzenegger she couldn’t find a protein bar that didn’t make her sick or have too much sugar, he encouraged her to bet on herself and create one that fit the bill. And with years of experience investing in the CPG space, he said he’d be happy to help her do it.
Schwarzenegger stayed with Shriver during the pandemic, affording them the perfect opportunity to work on the business that would become their nutrition company, MOSH (Maria Owings Shriver Health). The brand offers a line of brain-boosting protein bars featuring ingredients like Lion’s Mane and Ashwagandha and donates a portion of all sales to fund gender-based brain health research through the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, the organization Shriver founded in 2012.
MOSH officially launched on World Alzheimer’s Day in 2021. Today, on its second anniversary, the company rolled out a new collection of plant-based protein bars to help it continue its brain-health mission.
Related: 6 Habits to Improve Your Memory and Boost Your Brain Health
Entrepreneur sat down with the mother-son duo ahead of World Alzheimer’s Day to hear more about their personal connection to MOSH’s work, the challenges that came with launching amid the pandemic and what’s next for the growing company.
“People have learned a lot more about food; they’ve learned a lot more about a brain-healthy lifestyle.”
Shriver and Schwarzenegger’s decision to start MOSH was motivated, in part, by the loss of a close family member to Alzheimer’s. Shriver’s father, Sargent Shriver, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003 when the disease was viewed as “shameful” and generally kept quiet, she says.
That experience would lead to Shriver’s extensive work in Alzheimer’s advocacy, including releasing a groundbreaking report in 2010 in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. The findings revealed the disproportionate effect Alzheimer’s has on women for the first time.
“Now, there’s a whole new school of thinking around this disease brought on by technology, brought on by the neuroscience field, brought on by research,” Shriver says. “You can now see the brain in ways that people couldn’t see the brain five or 10 years ago. People have learned a lot more about food; they’ve learned a lot more about a brain-healthy lifestyle.”
Shriver stresses that brain health is a critical issue; if it hasn’t impacted someone personally, it’s likely only a matter of time until it does. “As a mother, I don’t want my kids to worry about my cognitive health,” she says. Ten million young adults aged 18-34 act as caregivers, per AARP.
So, in 2020, Shriver and Schwarzenegger came up with a plan for a brain-health brand that would be “unique to the marketplace” — and got started on executing that vision.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Mosh
“We get to stick true to how we want to build this company, how we want to operate it and what kind of products we want to make.”
Schwarzenegger admits there were “plenty of ups and downs” over the three years it took to build the brand. Creating the bars themselves proved challenging. MOSH needed to perfect an on-the-go, nutrient-dense snack that could promote brain health and taste good — with just one gram of sugar, too. Shriver and Schwarzenegger began MOSH as a team of two, but they brought on some people part-time to help them navigate formulations and R&D.
And, naturally, starting a company during Covid wasn’t without its obstacles either. “We couldn’t go to our co-manufacturers,” Schwarzenegger says. “We couldn’t go to the co-kitchens. We had to work with R&D people and nutritionists and brain-health experts over the phone and Zoom like everybody else.”
MOSH was self-financed in those early days, which allowed the company to go about things differently than other “celebrity brands,” Schwarzenegger says: “We didn’t sign a partnership or a deal with a big company or conglomerate or some food brand or anything like that. So the benefit is that we get to stick true to our mission. We get to stick true to how we want to build this company, how we want to operate it and what kind of products we want to make.”
Right before launch, Shriver and Schwarzenegger hired their first full-time team member to head operations, staying lean because they didn’t know how fast the company would grow. But their efforts paid off, and MOSH saw “tremendous demand” at launch — selling out on its first day, which was both “exciting and overwhelming,” Schwarzenegger says. Unfortunately, with the supply chain crisis underway, they were left without ingredients for about 16 weeks.
Related: How to Prepare for Major Supply Chain Disruption | Entrepreneur
“This is an exploding space that will be life-changing for [the next] generation.”
MOSH has only continued to build in the years since. The company has already done $10 million in direct-to-consumer sales and raised $100,000 for Alzheimer’s research, Schwarzenegger says. Now, with $3 million in Series A financing at its disposal, MOSH is tackling an “inch-deep, mile-wide” retail expansion in the greater Los Angeles area.
So far, MOSH can be found in all 36 Earth Bar locations, Equinoxes and Erewhon. “We’re starting small,” Schwarzenegger says, “but eventually we want to grow that retail presence on ecommerce.”
Additionally, the company’s team has expanded, but everyone on it has something in common too: first-hand experience with Alzheimer’s in their family. “I find that young people today don’t want to just go to a job,” Shriver says. “They want to go to a job that they think is making a difference.”
MOSH continues to be a way for Shriver and Schwarzenegger to have a lot of fun working together, bridging Shriver’s experience in the nonprofit sector with Schwarzenegger’s in the for-profit world to put out a product that’s mission-centered, healthy and delicious.
Related: 4 Essentials for Making Your Company Mission Thrive | Entrepreneur
Schwarzenegger’s favorite flavor is lemon white chocolate crunch; Shriver’s current no. 1 is the plant-based peanut butter chocolate chip. “I always have multiple bars in my bag and in my car because my granddaughter loves her MOSH bars, and everybody asks me for one,” she says.
Shriver says building the brand with her son allows her to keep growing, too.
“I’ve learned a lot in the food space from Patrick because I didn’t grow up reading labels,” Shriver says. “That wasn’t part of my generation’s way of eating. There wasn’t a health and wellness movement when I was growing up. It didn’t exist. Nobody talked about Alzheimer’s. Nobody talked about cognitive health. Nobody talked about a brain-healthy lifestyle. So this is an exploding space that will be life-changing for Patrick’s generation.”