On the latest episode of the Easton Community Podcast, Mike Tousignant introduces you to student and friend of Easton, Angelo Keely. The founder of Boulder-born supplement company Kion, Angelo shares his philosophy on business success, the importance of simplifying, and the purpose of essential amino acids in muscle growth and recovery.
A supplement company specializing in high-quality products and aimed at supporting energy, muscle growth, recovery, and longevity, Kion makes one of our favorite, go-to supplements at Easton – Kion Aminos. You’ve definitely heard of aminos if you’ve circled the martial arts community or any gym scene the last few years, but with so many new fads and supplements constantly trending, it becomes hard knowing what to pay attention to.
Angelo breaks down exactly what essential amino acids are and why we need them for muscle maintenance. As the building blocks of proteins, essential aminos provide us with the necessary support to continue growing actual body tissue when we do things like cut calories or engage in intense training sessions.
Naturally enhancing energy levels, promoting lean muscle growth and expediting post-workout recovery, aminos are like a secret weapon for athletes looking to maximize gains and minimize recovery time. Amino acids are proven to significantly enhance muscle protein synthesis, particularly when taken before training.
Because our ability to absorb and utilize protein diminishes as we age, supplementing with essential amino acids also becomes crucial to avoid losing muscle mass. For this reason, aminos help everyone from professional athletes to aging adults who have a lower sensitivity to the effects of resistance training.
Our students may know Angelo through Kion Aminos, but this isn’t the first time he’s brought value to Easton’s community. We’ve talked about the importance of a command structure that functions by dissipating power effectively – decentralization. (link) For us, this is vital because we’re running nine different schools all under one umbrella, one Team Easton, and one curriculum. Value needs to be distributed evenly.
One of the ways we keep everyone on the same page at Easton is through platforms like Bloom Growth and apps like Voxer for quick, compartmentalized communication. We have Angelo to thank for that! A friend of BJJ Purple Belt Jason Dunn, who runs businesses of his own, Angelo indirectly helped Easton streamline and elevate its inter-academy, inter-departmental [and let’s just say it, interdimensional] collaboration when he suggested Jason try Voxer for his company.
Less is more
For Angelo, the key to running a successful business comes down to focusing on quality over quantity, consolidating the best scientific knowledge available to create top-tier products. Kion offers 12 types of supplements, distributed in a few different forms, including aminos, protein, creatine, sleep supplements and coffee.
If you believe in what you do, it doesn’t have to fill an extremely niche hole in the market to find success. It comes down to what’s important. What can you feel confident committing your life to? Angelo ended up founding a supplement company.
Then it became about: How do I make it the most badass __supplement__ company?
Insert your own dream company goal on the line.
When it comes to what you offer as a business, staying true to your core values and not diluting your product or brand with lots of iterations and alternatives shows that you stand behind it confidently. If you let the quality of the product speak for itself, a minimalist approach that focuses on selling fewer but high-quality products can result in far greater effectiveness and customer satisfaction. Rather than pursuing a wide menu of offerings, Kion values transparency, scientific rigor and premium ingredients.
Angelo’s firm stance behind Kion’s products and insistence on continuous research and science-backed development goes back to his roots. Raised in Austin, Texas on vitamins, supplements, and echinacea, Angelo didn’t have a birth certificate or visit a doctor until the first grade.
“I was raised in a family,” Angelo says, “where our religion was health.”
Angelo’s family owned a natural health food store and a natural health food restaurant, and prior to that his father had imported botanicals – raw herbs for supplement production. His mother was a master swimmer, so health and fitness held a central role in their lifestyle.
In the pursuit of success, everybody grapples with insecurities. If you spend your energy making sure your product hits the mark in every way, you won’t need to worry about those insecurities. In fact, the key often lies in learning to say no and focusing on what truly matters.
This approach is particularly beneficial in environments like martial arts companies, where growth in the correct direction can lead to exceptional outcomes. Vertical development allows individuals to expand their skills and capabilities without diluting the focus. For this reason we’ll never offer any classes that don’t align with our vision – to build the greatest Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies through an unrelenting dedication to the students and staff. (To everyone who keeps suggesting yoga.)
Ultimately, the difference between success and true excellence often lies in the ability to discern and prioritize, with highly successful individuals being adept at saying no to anything that doesn’t align with their goals and values.
To hear the full story including facts on cutting weight, building muscle and supplementation – and the absolutely insane story of how Angelo came to run a supplement company, make sure you listen to the podcast!