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Hart High grad produces protein-infused water

Posted: July 3, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Updated: July 3, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Kirk Bardin is CEO of Spartan Beverages, Inc., which produces three varieties of Spartos, a protein-infused water. The water is sold in a number of Santa Clarita Valley shops, and Bardin said Whole Foods in Valencia will be stocking it later this month.

Mention protein drinks, and most people likely think of thick, chalky shakes chugged by bodybuilders. Kirk Bardin is out to change that perception.

Bardin is CEO of Spartan Beverages, Inc., based in Valencia and producing Spartos, a protein-infused water targeted at everyone from fitness fanatics to average Joes.

"It's not a want, it's a need," Bardin said of protein. "It's important for muscle repair, rehabilitation, hair and skin health and memory. It's kind of the wonder ingredient."

The water comes in three varieties. The original is a blackberry flavor and the grape sugar-free Spartos is sweetened with stevia. Those have 10 grams of protein per bottle and are 100 calories and 30 calories per bottle, respectively. The raspberry-flavored "Goddess" - targeted toward women, with less protein but more vitamin D, magnesium, calcium and iron - is 32 calories per bottle. Each retails for $2.79 per bottle.

A Valencia resident and 2000 graduate of Hart High School, Bardin said he got the idea for a protein water in 2007, while a student at Arizona State University College of Law.

A friend's ribbing of Bardin for always carrying protein shakes with him prompted him to wonder why the nutrient wasn't available in another drinkable form.

The 28-year-old said he's never been one to consume protein to get big and bulky. "I just want to be healthy for life," he said.

So began Bardin's quest develop a protein drink that was practical and pleasing to the palate.

He said the research and development process took about a year, as he and a chemist worked to find the right combination of ingredients, and focus groups weighed in on the product.

Bardin said it was also important to him to develop a beverage that was all natural and preservative-free, "because (being) all natural allows for better absorption."

The first phase of sales included selling it on, which Bardin said was important for reaching a broad base and seeing buyer feedback.

Spartos is now sold in stores throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, and Bardin has his sights set on the rest of the Southland and eventually beyond. He said Valencia will remain the company headquarters.

Later this month, he said, Whole Foods in Valencia will start stocking Spartos.

When it comes to who's drinking Spartos, Bardin said customers have included people recovering from weight-loss surgery, kids involved in athletics and fitness enthusiasts.

He's also found some big-league backing from homegrown sources.

Matt Moore - a Hart High graduate and starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers - is on board as Spartos' endorser.

"He's just such a good guy. He's the perfect fit for who we are," Bardin said.

Another Hart High graduate, Oakland Raiders quarterback Kyle Boller, is an investor in Spartos, Bardin said.

"We're raising (capital) faster than I thought we would," he said. "We should be fully profitable in about three months."


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