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CTRL is one of the more unusual gaming companies I cover because they don’t make games. Instead, it makes food in the form of meal replacement shakes and other healthy lifestyle foods for gamers and content creators.
Today marks the launch of CTRL’s newest Meal On-The-Go bar for gamers and its entry into the functional food space. CTRL has also closed a Friends and Family funding round that includes a diverse group of gaming leaders. The terms of the deal were not announced.
Investors include esports organization LoudGG; Creators “Jimmy Here”, “Crispy Concords” and “ProbGarrett”. Additionally, other investors include StreamworksGG; Human Media Group (management agency partly owned by Moist Critikal); esports pioneer Michael Sepso; Menashi Kestenbaum Founder of SCUF Gaming Duncan Ironmonger; and Diego Nunez, Chief Marketing Officer, Corsair Gaming and SCUF. Current investors include hip-hop artist Rick Ross, Beat Clan and Call of Duty esports player “Scump” and “STPeach”.
I find this company interesting because it is a company that exists because of the changes that have taken place in the gaming market. As I noted earlier, there are cultural changes afoot that make this an interesting move since the company started in 2019.
The nutrition message is a good one for gamers, who haven’t always had the best eating habits and are stereotypically known for junk food and energy drinks.
CTRL was started by one of the fathers of modern esports: Sundance DiGiovanni, one of the founders of Major League Gaming. He was joined by Skylar Johnson, former professional player and founder of Team EnvyUs (now Team Envy), along with attorney and CEO of Entertainment Glenn Delgado, who most recently served as general counsel for Major League Gaming.
Johnson said in an interview that the company has found some traction in the hunting and fishing category, as well as in the digital music space, in terms of customers. It also works well in the fitness and core players categories, he said.
“Everyone should eat,” Johnson said. “Our goal is a natural transition into this category of functional foods. Everyone still has to eat and we try to provide healthy alternatives. For us, it was a quest to find a niche in that healthy category.”
More companies are being formed based on overturning stereotypes about players. The players have become a diverse group, and they are not just young, overweight, seasoned white males who live in their fathers’ basements.
The New York company has sold more than 1.2 million meals, and has 65 influencers on its roster with a total viewership of 100 million. It has only three full-time and three part-time employees. The capital will be used to expand the retail footprint, enhance retail visibility, and expand product lines.
“We have done so well in the world of influencer marketing where we are recognizable as a brand,” Johnson said.
The company said CTRL Group is promoting its line of powder replacement shakes for their “grain bowl bottom” taste, and On-The-Go meal bars feature new flavors packed with healthy ingredients.
The bars currently come in two flavors: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Magic Charms. Each On-The-Go Bar contains 15 grams of premium whey protein, 240 calories, 27 grams of healthy carbs, and nine grams of fiber.
“These are no ordinary protein bars,” Sundance DiGiovanni, co-founder of CTRL and Major League Gaming, said in a statement. Loaded with protein, vitamins, nutrients, macros, a roasted, honey-sweetened cashew butter base and other healthy ingredients, these bars will curb your hunger at the same time and satisfy your sweet tooth, all while putting your health first. We’re ready to break into the market and give our fans nutritious and delicious meal replacement options, these bars are the The next step in this evolution.”
Boxes of 12 retail for $36. Meal On-The-Go boards are sold in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Johnson noted that the relationship between MLG founders DiGiovanni and Sepso has paid off, as Sepso’s Beyond Gaming centers will use CTRL-branded products as gamers’ favorite health foods.
“A lot of people don’t realize how many gaming centers have popped up again,” Johnson said.
Johnson acknowledged that the economy was not what it was just a few months ago, and so the company is making preparations to deal with the slump in spending. Fortunately, he said, the products have a long shelf life and that’s one of the good things about the business.
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