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Volume 26 No. 231
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Aaron Donald Invests In Sports Nutrition Brand Ready

Rams DT Aaron Donald has made his first startup investment, taking a stake in Pittsburgh-based sports drink and food product maker Ready Nutrition alongside an endorsement deal. It is the first outside capital taken by Ready, owned by Donald’s fellow Pitt alumnus Pat Cavanaugh, who founded the company in ‘12. Terms were not disclosed, but a source close to the deal said Donald acquired less than a 10% stake in the company with incentives that could lead to more. Ready will clear $100M sales this year, the source said.

"His ethos, how his parents raised him, it’s exactly the type of player we’re looking for,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s a winner, he’s first-class. No matter if he’s making a lot of money or no money, he’s the same player." Donald will act as a spokesperson and creative consultant, particularly around the Ready Protein Water brand. Along with appearing in creative spots, Donald will donate product to high school and youth football programs in every NFL city and appear on behalf of the brand in person at select football programs and in a digital series called “Ready Talks with Aaron." Donald said he wanted to invest because Ready tastes good, and Cavanugh impressed him in a face-to-face meeting. The two had met briefly before through Pitt alumni circles but first talked business last offseason.

“It meant a lot to me to sit down with the founder and president of the company, before we make a deal, to see if I like the product -- that’s first and foremost -- and seeing his mindset, and the passion he’s got for his business, that’ meant a lot to me,” Donald said. “We have a lot of similarities in his work ethic." Ready hopes Donald will help boost the protein water brand, launched in '17. Cavanaugh said protein bars comprise most of the company’s revenue, but water and other beverages are the fastest-growing sector. The company markets directly to youth and high school sports programs, and in retail. It has deals with four D-I NCAA conferences.