By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Steve Nice has seen firsthand what the Johnson City businessman and entrepreneur calls “the rise of the gluten phenomenon.”
He and his wife Sheridan, a French-trained chef, own Mona Lisa’s Gelato & Café in Johnson City, a garden-to-table café that offers daily fresh-baked bread, gourmet soups, Vegan, and gluten-free fare.
“We’ve seen more and more people coming in with dietary restrictions,” Steve Nice says. “While some might view it as a fad, I started listening to the conversations and doing research. I met a biochemist and started talking to him.”
Over a six-month period, Nice says he spent several hours a day “knocking around the idea of whether or not a gluten supplement could be created. The older we get, our enzymes are just not as potent.”
He took the idea to Audrey Depelteau, Director of East Tennessee State University’s (ETSU) Innovation Lab, an organization that helps entrepreneurs and also operates an incubator for start-ups.
“She put me together with several scientists,” Nice says. “They helped me determine if it was scientifically feasible and a viable business.” Two of those individuals were Andrew Clark, a Nutritional Biochemist and Registered Dietitian who is an Associate Dean of Research at ETSU, and Chuck Collins, a Dissolution Chemist and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, also at ETSU.
Fast forward to 2017, and the Nices are marketing a product called GlutenShield® through Shield Nutraceuticals, Inc., a company they founded in Johnson City.
“It all happened quickly,” Nice says. The couple launched the company with a one-time investment of $60,000 from a single investor.
“It’s like Beano meets Lactase which meets Tums,” Nice says. Ingredients in the supplement include enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics. The enzymes in the formula breakdown gluten, dairy, casein, carbohydrates, protein and fat. The prebiotics are a proprietary mixture that also includes herbs chosen to support the probiotics included in the GlutenShield® formula.
A total of 20 enzymes breakdown gluten, dairy, protein, fat and carbohydrates, while 11 probiotics restore beneficial intestinal microflora. You can learn more about the product here.
GlutenShield® has been on the market for a year, and Nice, who takes two capsules before a meal, says the product is now in its fourth formulation and works beautifully.
Shield Nutraceuticals is using a GMP-certified facility in California to manufacture the supplement and selling it primarily through its webpage, although the product is available at the Natural Foods Market in Johnson City.
Eventually, he plans to take it national.