Meet the Rutgers Junior who’s CEO of his own fitness company
Jason Saran created Alva Fitness, a workout wear start-up
Jason Saran is a Junior here at Rutgers, majoring in Communication. He’s also the founder and CEO of his own start-up, Alva Fitness. Start-ups are unique in the way that their founders approach business. Not only do the founders try to bring a new product to a particular industry, but they also try to bring a new mindset. That is why larger companies nowadays, like Coca-Cola, Mondelez International, Google, and other giant corporations are spending their own cash on incubator programs.
Before interviewing Jason, I didn’t know much about the type of product he was selling. I understood that he was selling work out apparel, but I was unsure of how he would be able to break through the conversation of fitness apparel that I constantly see ambushing my Instagram account. Jason soon proved to me that not only will his product be different from the other fitness ventures, but also it will inject a tone into the fitness industry that embraces health, positive personality, and a stronger state of mind.
I looked at your website, www.alvafitness.com, and I love the fresh structure because it complements the eye. What does Alva Fitness have to offer its potential customers?
Right now Alva Fitness is selling clothes that my brother and I have collaborated on. My brother actually owns another clothing brand called Triangle Athletics, which is tailored to MMA Fighters and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu athletes. On Tuesday, our brand of sweatshirts, joggers, and t-shirts will be coming out. We are not trying to create products for the bodybuilding niche yet, but rather our focus is on the everyday person that is just trying to exercise. We hope our next project can bring our customers fitness equipment.
What do your products represent to you?
When people wear Alva I want them to be the best versions of themselves. People that wear Alva are also representing our brand, so anyone wearing our product should represent what they want to be in life. They should feel like they are part of a community that is really positive and embodies “forward thinking”.
What motivated you to start the business?
I really love working with my brother because he is also an entrepreneur. He started a lot of other brands (PLAYA BOWLS) and graduated from Rutgers. At the same time Playa Bowls was taking off, I got an internship with Sprayground, one of the biggest producers of backpacks in the world. I had the opportunity at this internship to work very closely with the CEO. Since the CEO and his brother began Sprayground, I thought that maybe the ideas I had for Alva Fitness could fit their business model too.
How did you have the opportunity to work so closely with a CEO of a pretty successful company?
I pitched a lot of ideas to them during my interview and they loved it. Once I started working with the CEO, he always pushed me to think about what was big in pop culture and he always had me question his own designs.
What is it like working with your brother?
There isn’t any stress. We are about 10 years apart but the funny thing is we think very similarly. My brother isn’t my boss but rather guides me and works with me as a business partner.
So, why the name Alva?
My brother actually came up with it. He wanted it to sound like “Alpha” and after playing around with the word he thought Alva might work.
How are you angling your brand’s message to be different from the other emerging fitness apparel brands?
Right now I see a lot of clothing companies angling their brands towards a niche. I look at a lot of bodybuilding brands that I like. I buy and use these brands but they don’t put out a product for everyone. From what I am seeing online, everyone creates product for a specific part of the fitness industry and I want to sell a product that isn’t limited to a category.
Another thing that sets apart our clothing is that they are pretty customizable. But we also don’t want to limit ourselves to selling clothing. We want to offer the customer knowledge about fitness; something they can take home for free. We have done this so far with our “Fitness Tips & Tricks” section of our website. We hope that one day people will come to our website not just to buy products but to also learn about fitness.
What opportunities and challenges do you see for the fitness industry?
I haven’t seen the fitness industry evolve over the years. Everyone in the fitness industry is either selling apparel, equipment, or supplements. I think it’s hard to find a community within a company that sends out a positive message nowadays. I hope that we are the brand that inspires people instead of hiring a few muscle heads to sell mediocre t-shirts, smith machines, and protein.
As someone that is passionate about fitness, I have sadly noticed that bodybuilders have forgotten that bodybuilding is an art. It seems like every year the best physiques are those that have the most muscle instead of balancing muscle and size proportions. So what is your motivation in helping people?
In the future I want to hire athletes that are specialized in what they do. For instance, there is this fitness specialist, Layne Norton, who has his Ph.D and is a professional bodybuilder. Not only does he have scientific knowledge but also he continues to research in order to help people find passion about what he is so passionate about.
What qualities do you admire in a CEO and what qualities do you aspire to have as the next big CEO?
I’m grateful I have been able to work with individuals that are open-minded. I admire successful individuals that allow their interns to contribute to brainstorms and add value to a company. For me personally, I always want to learn something and I never want to say I know everything. A person that can continuously learn from other people, no matter what their background is, is someone that will always be able to evolve and find new ways to expand business.