“Our premise behind the company was trying to make athletes more efficient when they are trying to compete at a high level”- Bryce Thatcher


This is a captivating conversation with Bryce Thatcher, Chief of Product Development of UltrAspire, on innovation and what it means to be a true innovator and why it is important for the audience. Bryce is singularly responsible for creating the original hydration products athletes take for granted today such as water bottles and hydration packs athletes take for granted.

Most of today’s “innovation” is “incremental innovation”. In Bryce’s case Bryce was not so much a ‘Disruptor’ as  he was innovating to fill a void that previously did not exist whereas Peter Defty’s work on fat adaptation for performance and health is highly disruptive to the conventional high carbohydrate approach. 

Innovators are  misunderstood and even marginalized during the early stages of innovation.Steve Jobs was shown the door at the very company he founded, Apple and Walt Disney was thought to be absolutely crazy each time he disrupted entertainment; first with an animation short of a mouse, then a full length color animated movie of a fairy tale and finally with the creation of a theme park.

The discussion includes reflections on the importance of understanding the journey of innovation,  curiosity, and insights into how industries stagnate without it.  Most of all innovation comes to fruition through the innovator’s staying true to their vision and core values. 

The Path to Innovation is hardly predictable:

Bryce grew up outdoors. His passion for sports, particularly skiing and mountain running, led to the problem solving which led to starting his first company, Ultimate Direction. Yet this was a serendipitous departure from his pre-med education and career track as a Physician. This leads to a broader discussion on how innovation rarely starts from a planned pathway but as a result of curiosity, adaptation and problem solving. This is how true innovators adapt to challenges, with a constant curiosity and problem solving ethos to get to the goal and vision. 

But innovation is not limited to the product design but to constantly innovate in all areas as illustrated by Bryce's shift to overseas manufacturing due to rising labor costs and, subsequently,  his innovative approach during the COVID pandemic. Here, Bryce shares how the crisis led to a new way of working directly with his factories as well as with athletes testing equipment and providing input. These changes ultimately sped up the innovation process. 

Innovation means getting your hands dirty and doing the work

The conversation also highlights how innovators pay attention to the details, do the deep dives into those details as part of innovation. As companies seek to maximize shareholder return through lowering costs and increasing profit margins as the driver this creates a “Feeding frenzy to the bottom” where the first thing to go is R&D which is a key driver of innovation. 

Innovation requires the willingness to make mistakes and a willingness to get one’s hands dirty. In today’s virtual world this is lost on the modern generation who want instant gratification. 

Bryce also decries the lack of patience today’s generation has and how this is an innovation killer. He stresses the need for an ‘Incubation Period’ as crucial for the ‘Ah Hah’ moment. 

The Impact of Innovation:

Peter and Bryce delve deeper into how innovation shapes and drives their companies and its broader impact on society. Bryce shares how continuous innovation has not only brought success to Ultra Spire but also enriched his life and improved athletes' experiences. The conversation also includes a focus on real-world problem-solving and the importance of being deeply involved in the innovation process.

The Essence of Early Adoption:

In the final part of their discussion, Bryce explains the importance of distilling complex ideas down to their essence to reach a broader audience. The emphasis is on engaging early adopters, cultivating curiosity, and avoiding fear-based marketing. The power of relating to innovators on a personal level and seeing their human side is also highlighted, as well as the importance of staying true to one's niche.


The episode concludes with Bryce sharing his personal journey towards fat adaptation and how a disciplined, natural lifestyle has improved his endurance activities and overall health. Bryce is looking to not only set some FKT’s but to gain optimal longevity. And, yes, Vespa is part of that equation. 

Bryce also emphasizes the need to form a cohesive team to be able to communicate those details of innovation by ‘distilling’ down all those details into the critical points that most people can digest and understand.  Innovators and their passion often lose people in the detail and complexity of what they are innovating.

The conversation underscores the critical role of curiosity, innovation, and early adoption in driving the progress of Humanity.

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