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Small business tackling big world challenges

While there are many arguments for the value realized by a community when an entrepreneur starts a new business, a less commonly considered side effect deals with the philanthropic pursuits of that entrepreneur and their company. Recent studies have concluded entrepreneurs on average donate 50% more to charity annually than individuals who are not managing their own companies. Such is the case with Youth Entrepreneurs alumnus Nathan Gordon, Co-Founder and CEO of SANS, a meal-replacement bar company.  

Nathan’s entrepreneurship journey began in the late 1990’s in his Youth Entrepreneurs class at Northwest High School in Wichita, Kansas. His educator, Jeff Darr, made a lasting impression on Gordon: “He by far had the biggest impact on me of all of my teachers; he really connected well with the students and showed a lot of interest in helping us generate an interest in business entrepreneurship.” This spark was the beginning of Nathan’s lifelong interest and great desire to one day build something that would impact the world. 

After ten years working as an investment banker, Nathan had interacted with and advised entrepreneurs, CEOs, and companies of all sizes. His relationships with the entrepreneurs in particular inspired Nathan, and the day came when he decided to apply everything he had learned in his Youth Entrepreneurs class and career by starting his own company. His focus for his new company: tackling a big world problem that could be solved through business.  

Nathan himself had been struggling with depression, obesity, and a poor work/life balance; thanks to a coworker who began showing him the benefits of removing added sugar and processed foods from his diet, Nathan lost seventy pounds. Armed with his transformed mindset about food, he began looking for healthy meal-replacement solutions that would fit his busy lifestyle and found the market to be a blue ocean ripe with opportunity. SANS opened for business in late 2018 offering meal-replacement bars with all-natural ingredients and no added sugar; each bar is packed with nutrients and the right balance of lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. 

In addition to starting his own business, Nathan wanted to ensure his company was operating with its social mission of combatting harmful foods in the Western diet and worldwide hunger as a top priority. Applying a similar model as TOMs’ One for One, SANS gives a nutritious meal to someone in need for every pack of meal bars purchased through their Buy Meals, Give Meals program. Since the launch of SANS nine months ago, nearly 30,000 meal bars have been sold and 8,500 meals will have been donated to individuals who do not know where their next meal is coming from by the end of their first fiscal year.  

In Nathan’s words, “A lot of entrepreneurship is planting ideas: the idea of building something one day was planted my sophomore year and it never really went away. Youth Entrepreneurs helped me design a framework that allows a for-profit business to solve a problem while helping others.” 

To learn more about SANS, visit their website and use promo code “YE” to receive 20% off sitewide.