Fat is on fire for entrepreneurs hooked on the low-carb diet that helps generate ketosis--the metabolic process that uses fat as the body's primary fuel source. "Fat satiates and keeps cravings in check, which is important when weight loss is the goal," says cardiologist and low-carb diet consultant Bret Scher. Rising interest has fed a craving for cookbooks, podcasts, conferences, coaching services, supplements, and food and beverage products. Meet some folks who have hopped on the fat-burning trend. Hear how they got started. And above all: Everyone have a pork rind.
Victory Belt Publishing
Founded: 2006 | Projected 2019 sales: Mid-eight figures
"When I started Victory Belt, I was a published author of nearly a dozen books and a professional practitioner of muay thai, a martial arts discipline native to Thailand," says owner Erich Krauss. "My goal was to publish health and fitness books on subjects I liked and had researched. In 2014, we published our first keto book, Keto Clarity. I knew keto would be a wave and publishing niche. Keto worked for me, and I knew it could work for others, and that if I brought high-quality titles to market quickly, they'd sell."
St. Helena, California
Founded: 2017 | 2018 Sales: $16.5 million
"In early 2015," says co-founder Dorian Greenow, "I went on a keto diet. I bought a ketone meter, which uses ketone strips, and was incredulous and angry that each strip cost at least $4. I took one of the strips apart and couldn't figure out why the price was so high for something so simple. So I licensed the technology for a device that could measure both blood glucose and ketones, along with the technology for less costly ketone and glucose strips. Our ketone strips cost a dollar apiece; the Keto-Mojo device costs $60."
Falls Church, Virginia
Founded: 2016 | Projected 2019 sales: Low-seven figures
"My goal," says owner Frank Llosa, "was to make a palatable and affordable ketone ester [a muscle-performance booster], which had previously cost as much as $1,000 a gram. I hired several R&D labs to find the most economical ketone ester manufacturing process. We shipped our first batch of KE4 in March 2018 to people who had prebought through a crowdfunding effort that raised $150,000. A 60-milliliter container of KE4 costs $32. A 600-milliliter container with 300 grams of ketone ester costs $300. Later this year, I plan to launch KetoneWater."
Fox Hill Kitchens
St. Johnsbury, Vermont
Founded: 2015 | Projected 2019 sales: Mid-six figures
"I'm a professional baker and chef, and I've followed a low-carb diet for a decade," says owner Julie Fox-McClure. "I missed bread. In April 2015, I was an exhibitor at a large paleo event and gave samples to attendees. I had a sign-up sheet for people who wanted to be notified when we launched. Our retail website was up by August."
Founded: 2009 | Projected 2019 sales: Eight figures
"I'm a chef and butcher who perfected a technique to make chicharrones--fried pork rinds--from excess pork skin that would otherwise be discarded," co-owner Ryan Farr says. "We are now in all Whole Foods and other national retailers."