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Protein-drinks company set for national expansion

John Seelmeyer

Loosely translated from Latin, “Creo Mundi” means “Create Your Universe.”

That’s what executives of Sparks-based Credo Mundi International Inc. are seeking to do as they ramp up to begin production of a ready-to-drink version of the company’s protein drink.

The company expects to have a contract in hand to begin delivering ready-to-drink products nationwide early in 2013, and its two top executives Alison Prentice, its chief executive, and Diana Hoffman, its chief operating officer are scrambling to get the capital in place to handle potentially rapid growth.

They’re talking with investors who might put up as much as $3 million for an equity stake in the company. Alternatively, the company is looking at debt financing.

Over three years, the company’s plans call for about $13 million in equity or debt financing.

Either way, Prentice and Hoffman find themselves moving quickly after two years of largely behind-the-scenes work to get the company established in Nevada.

Its headquarters staff of four in Sparks is focused on sales and marketing. Creo Mundi outsources manufacturing to a nutraceuticals firm in Las Vegas, while ITS Logistics in Sparks handles distribution of Creo Mundi’s powdered drink products.

But the headquarters staff is likely to grow quickly, says Hoffman. The company expects to add about 15 people largely in marketing and sales positions early next year, with another 50 coming on board within the following 12 months.

The company’s growth became supercharged last spring with the addition to its board of directors of Charles Lynch, the well-connected chairman of Market Value Partners Company of Atherton, Calif.

Hoffman, an attorney and onetime executive in Silicon Valley, knew Lynch through their work together on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

He began making calls to food industry contacts he developed during work as chairman of Fresh Choice Inc., and chairman and CEO of Maua Loa Macadamia Nut Corp. and Arrowhead Mills Inc., and Creo Mundi was off to the races.

But even with potentially rapid growth just over the horizon, Hoffman says Creo Mundi is exercising care in its search for capital.

“It’s not just the quantity of the money, it’s the quality of the money,” she says, noting that the most valuable investors are those who bring knowledge and contacts in addition to cash.

Prentice, a registered nurse who launched the company in Oshawa, Ontario, more than five years ago, acknowledges that Creo Mundi has set a large goal for itself: Creation of an entirely new category of food products and bringing protein drinks into the mainstream.

“We’re taking protein out of the gym and into the kitchen,” she says.

The company’s first products, protein-drink powders in three flavors, are retailed through its Web site, at the Atlantis in Reno, and they just won a spot in the restaurants and kitchens of Renown Health facilities.

The deal with Renown, Prentice says, helps validate the company’s strategy of providing healthy drinks that taste good.

The company ultimately expects that 80 percent of its sales will be handled by wholesalers and distributors, while it handles about 20 percent on its own through direct relationships with retailers or through Internet sales.

After initially launching the company on her own in 2007, Prentice soon discovered she needed a stronger infrastructure to support Creo Mundi’s potential growth.

Working with Hoffman, she began working in 2010 to move the company’s assets and incorporation from Ontario to Nevada. That process is now completed.