NYU Founder Diaries: Resist Nutrition

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The Startup: Resist Nutrition is shaking up the "bro-tein" aisle with plant-based protein bars that support hormone and blood sugar health. With a clinically proven slow blood sugar response, the company’s bars make it easy for everyone, but especially the 163M+ Americans living with hormonal imbalances from diabetes to PCOS, to snack for happy hormones on-the-go.

The Team: Drew Lederman (Tisch ‘20), founder & CEO, and Emily Cohen (Steinhardt ‘22), chief development officer

Participated In: 2022 Summer LaunchpadFemale Founders FellowshipStartup Coaching, VC Pitchfest

As an 18-year-old NYU student juggling a busy lifestyle that included multiple jobs and internships, Drew Lederman received the news that she was living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that experts estimate affects as many as 5 million US women of reproductive age.

After receiving the official diagnosis and doctor's orders to transition to a low-carb diet, Lederman began eating protein bars as an easy on-the-go snack to keep her going throughout the hectic days. But what seemed like the perfect light meal actually contributed to her health taking a turn for the worse, she says, as she began to battle acne, hair loss, weight gain, and other serious symptoms.

Visits to specialists and self-research led Lederman to the discovery that the protein bars she’d been frequently consuming were negatively affecting her hormones and spiking her blood sugar, despite labels that billed them as hormone-friendly and anti-inflammatory. After waiting for a better protein bar to be created, Lederman decided to take the step to be the one who would bring the concept to market.

Lederman was joined by Emily Cohen, an NYU Steinhardt master’s student earning a degree in Food Studies, who brought food industry insight to the startup that was eventually dubbed Resist Nutrition. The company’s protein bars are vegan, gluten free, and keto friendly with no sugar alcohols, and they’re clinically proven to slow blood sugar response. Resist’s bars are now sold by multiple stores and retailers, including Amazon, Pop-Up Grocer, Lifethyme, and Elm Wellness.

Below, Lederman and Cohen share more about their entrepreneurial journeys and inspirations. (Responses have been edited for clarity.)

Q: How did you first become interested in entrepreneurship?

We’re classic founders in the sense that we had a personal problem that we wanted to create a solution for!

Q: How did you initially find NYU’s entrepreneurial community?

When Drew first came up with the idea for Resist, she started using the Leslie eLab’s resources. From coaching calls to Female Founders Lunches, she started learning what it would be like to launch a startup. At the same time, when Emily started her master’s program at NYU, she wanted to make sure she was using all of her NYU resources. She’s always been interested in startups (specifically in the food industry) and was excited by all the programs the Leslie eLab had to offer!

Q: What has been the most rewarding moment of your founder journey so far?

Our product is dedicated to those with hormonal imbalances as well as insulin resistance. It means the world to us when our customers send in their Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) data that shows our bar keeps their blood sugar stable.

Q: Biggest business challenge your startup has overcome so far?

We had an issue with our manufacturing partner when we launched with all three flavors in August 2022. They used a different supplier for our tapioca fiber which has a different consistency and made our products taste fine ... but drier. To add insult to injury, they wrapped the bars slightly off-center which made the ingredients very difficult to read. We were devastated! But we knew that we had cultivated a community that cared about our ingredients and science far more than these issues. We leveraged our sales and marketing experience, and we were completely candid with our customers. We were able to sell almost all of that product before our next order came in!

Q: How did your experience in the NYU Summer Launchpad transform the way you’re approaching your venture?

SLP helped us think in ways that we weren’t doing before and made us tackle issues that we stayed away from because we didn’t want to deal with them. Once we were forced to do this work, and received help to do it from the Leslie eLab, it really helped us understand our business in a different perspective.

Q: Favorite memory from your time in SLP?

Our favorite memory of our time in the SLP was working from the Leslie eLab. We (unofficially) claimed the booth closest to the stairs and worked out of there every day. We loved being able to see some of our other SLP-ers and dropping in to Darren [Yee], Rebecca [Silver], and Frank [Rimalovski’s] offices!

Q: What’s the biggest piece of advice that you would give to aspiring student founders?

Use your resources and join founder communities. We’ve found it incredibly helpful being able to ask other founders questions, vent about the latest obstacles, and get feedback. Plus, these spaces usually share events, opportunities, and get-togethers!

Q: Favorite course you took at NYU?

EC: Contemporary Issues (Food Studies)

DL: Autobiography (theater studies) — it’s such a great way to explore storytelling through an ultra creative lens!

Q: Which famous/successful entrepreneur would you like to get lunch with, and which NYC restaurant would you take them to?

Sarah Blakely & Misi

Q: Favorite movie?

Any Nora Ephron romcom – she’s the reason Drew fell in love with NYC.

Q: Favorite NYU spot to spend time?

We love working out of the Leslie eLab. We spent the last year dedicating it as our office and would take regular breaks to walk and get coffee or take a lap through Washington Square.

Connect with Resist Nutrition on Instagram and LinkedIn.