Dec. 8, 2022

Transforming temptations into Protein Innovations with Zhasmina Gevezieva

Transforming temptations into Protein Innovations with Zhasmina Gevezieva
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Overcast podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

From a body builder to creating innovation in protein snacks. Jasmina Gevezieva-Berova is a performance nutrition coach and co-founder of Cardinal Bites. These are delicious protein balls with no sugar! Perfect for people who want to maintain their figure. With projected revenue of $120,000 for 2022, Cardinal Bites is just getting started.

Highlights from the show:

0:50 – what was your 2021 TedX speech about?

2:30 – as a kid did you want to be a powerlifter?

6:15 – how I train for a competition, what’s important for the bikini

7:10 – have any guys felt embarrassed by you in the gym?

8:15 – how did you become a brand ambassador for various brands?

10:15 – what do customers get excited about when they discover Cardinal Bites?

12:15 – how did you develop the first Cardinal Bites?

14:25 – have you taken on any investment?

15:50 – how are you getting the product to market?

16:50 – what does the relationship with the distributor look like?

17:50 – has there been a time in your life that you thought you were on to something, but you were wrong?

19:30 – how do you structure a daily nutrition plan as a trainer?

22:00 – instead of flowers for Valentines Day, you would rather receive __________.

Do you wish to connect with our special guest?

Visit the Cardinal Bite’s website:

Tune in to every conversation about exciting European Startups and Innovators on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon! Leave a rating and review so we can keep making amazing interviews!

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Innovators Can Laugh in your favorite podcast player.

Connect with Eric:

Visit his website:


For the Innovators Can Laugh newsletter in your inbox every week, subscribe at

Past Guests:


Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh include Yannik Veys, Ovi Negrean, Arnaud Belinga, Csaba Zajdó, Dagobert Renouf, Andrei Zinkevich, Viktorija Cijunskyte, Lukas Kaminskis, Pija Indriunaite, Monika Paule, PhD, Vytautas Z

Tune in to every conversation about exciting European Startups and Innovators on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon! Leave a rating and review so we can keep making amazing interviews!

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Innovators Can Laugh in your favorite podcast player.

Connect with Eric:
Visit his website:

For the Innovators Can Laugh newsletter in your inbox every week, subscribe at

Past Guests:
Past guests on Innovators Can Laugh include Yannik Veys, Ovi Negrean, Arnaud Belinga, Csaba Zajdó, Dagobert Renouf, Andrei Zinkevich, Viktorija Cijunskyte, Lukas Kaminskis, Pija Indriunaite, Monika Paule, PhD, Vytautas Zabulis, Leon van der Laan, Ieva Vaitkevičiūtė.
Additional episodes you might enjoy:
#55 Yannik Veys - From creating the Uber for service professionals to growing Hypefury
#53 Tzvete Doncheva - Overcoming barriers to get into a VC with Tzvete Doncheva
#50 V...


Oh, that's a nice surprise actually, that you start in Bulgaria. Very good. Thank you very much, and it's a pleasure to be here. Hey, you're listening to Innovators Can Laugh, the Fun Startup podcast. I'm your host Eric Notcher on ico We interview. An innovative entrepreneur in the European tech startup scene every week.

My goal is to have my guests share their wisdom while having a little fun in the process. Now let's dive in. So my guest today is Jaina gif, a performance nutrition coach and co-founder of Cardinal Bites. These are delicious protein balls with no. Perfect for people who want to maintain their figure.

Jaina, so excited to have you here. I was going through your LinkedIn profile and I'm curious, because I saw that you were a TEDx speaker last year. What did you speak about? I spoke about cell sabotages because I have a long transformational story from my personal experience which is from from a person who had knee disorder and problems with eating to a person who is National power lifting champion twice.

Bikini fitness enthusiast social entrepreneur, which is in the field of nutrition and better for you quality products to consume functional products, actually. So that was the story. So how I made it from the with big problem, major problem, which is affecting the quality of life.

Over eating to a person who is experienced in nutrition. And right now I'm studying stuff for nutritional science and I hope that I can make it through the selection and everything because it's about studying and the grades are. The grades are really nice right now, but I know it's a lot of competition and a lot of requests for everything just to, to make it so, yeah.

I'm not sure how I'm gonna do it at the time and see if I'm going to to, to make it to the final. But right now I'm studying in the staff distance program, which is nutrition. Well, let's go back here because you mentioned you were a power lifter as a kid. Did you want to grow up and be a power lifter?

Oh, no. I didn't know what is power lifting. Three years ago actually, it was really fun because I had some problems with this hearing. I have, well perhaps with the back in the lower back. Lower back, yeah. From trading with. Not the proper exercise technique and to just think what I, I shouldn't live that way.

Yeah. And so that meant to premise with the lower back. And the doctor said that I should not lift anything more than two kilos for the rest of my life and et cetera, and I should train. Swimming and yoga, but be really careful with yoga because I can make something bad for my lower back.

So actually I started with an orthopedic specialist to just to strengthen my, my back. And that led let, that led to that lift as a. And actually I had a dream during my teenage years to compete in both building, but I've never had the, the fear for that, the, the forum, physical forum.

And because of the over 18 I wasn't with the proper low level of body fat on us. And but my strength was, was increasing during the time I was training for the pain just to strengthen my lower back. Yeah. And my check was increasing and my trainer said you can do power lifting.

Think. And that was, what's that ? There's definitely more. And he said that what? That dead leave. And any other three exercises in in this. Three movements during this competition? Yeah, and actually, yeah. Started with that. I train a lot. I learned a lot. And for three months I increased my strength several times.

I started with a spot of. 40 kilos, for example. And I did hundred kilos for three months. Totally na And that's called the New gain. And you know, when you're underdeveloped and you haven't seen your potential at the beginning, you just see your strength every day increasing it. That's the new begin.

So I have some strength, but I've never well, is that way. So that's the condition. And that was. A hundred kilos is a lot. I do the di lifts sometimes, but I, I hardly ever put more than, oh, I don't know, maybe 30 or 40 kilos on the barbell. Oh, di lifts is hundred and 20 actually. Okay.

You know, I've read some articles that say the DID lift is the the best exercise for overall muscle because it, it impacts the shoulders, the back, and the legs. And if you're gonna do one exercise for strength, a lot of people say the did lift is your exercise. So it seems to be you're really good at it, huh?

You can, there are a lot of come up movements. Court is one of them, and it's, it's really. For the lower part. Also he trust for guts maxims. The third exercise actually was bench press in during the, the power lifting. It's a really good compound exercise for the upper level of the body. Yeah, so my my advice is to train both com muscle exercises and exercises if you want.

For your body to have some hypertrophy? Actually when I'm training, because right now it's, it's really chaotic. It shouldn't be that way. I'm not proud of that. Okay. But the way I train when and train for bikini, for example, and just to I enter this competition mode my, I, I train five times a week and the muscle.

As big muscles that, that are days from muscle. These are shoulders, shoulder, day, back day, guts day back day. every day something cause it's it's really important from the bikini. Okay. So I, that's it. Last question about the last question about your, your, your experience doing this.

Before we dive into Cardinal Bites and some other stuff here. Has this ever happened to you where you're in the gym and some guy's in there, he's trying to impress you and he thinks that he's lifting a lot of weight, and then you go and you add more weight on the, on the barb. Has that ever happened? Yeah, actually, yeah.

And they. Yeah, and it was pretty fun because at, I just saw a guy who is lifting couple weights and he didn't let them in the proper way. And he's going to make a. He's got, yeah, yeah, yeah. And I went there and I just showed him the proper position and he was like, you're a girl.

Wow. Why? Why you embarrassing me that way? That was just trying to help. So they don't like me very much because of that, because they're embarrassed. That's right. So I'm not, I'm not giving anyone advice if someone is not asking you through because they're just embarrassed. Yeah, no, I would, I would imagine they would be.

Okay. So I was also curious because I also saw that you were a brand ambassador for brands like Lenova Lile Walk Mart, and a few others. How did you become a brand ambassador for these brands? Oh, it's pretty fun actually. That was around my power lifting and bikini and sport sports career, which was 2019, so not that long ago.

Okay. And they just recognized me as a person with a lot of will motivation. I had a big news campaign here in Bulgaria in all the national media, so they just recognized me. I was. Recognizable because of that media exposure. Gotcha. That was for Walmart and and Lido and for the Novo that was surround my my career as an entrepreneur at the beginning because One client of ours of Cardinal Bites was in a really nice position in Lenovo, and he said that he worked our product, like our fast growing development, and they're looking for ambassadors who are onboarding that then values of Manno, which is innovation, creativity, flexibility, and he just need needed a business.

One who is a recogniz, one who is a startup entrepreneur in a felt growing business. So, which is also with a big media exposure. So we are. Pretty popular here. We have, I had an interview actually on Monday on our biggest television hero, which is going to be live next month. So it's called Btv. That, that media, yeah.

Company. So we. We have interviews actually every week, for example, or every two weeks. So yeah, we are just in the near world train as brand. Okay. All right. Well let's jump to Cardinal Bites. What do customers get excited about when they first try them and what are they? Can you just tell the audience a little bit about this?

Yeah, of course. I'm looking here if her tips done, but I have only the bon here right now to show you. This is the bonier. This is cardinal bias. It's pretty cool inside because it's eco-friendly. Luxury give folks, but as a whole car bites, we produce protein temptations with no added sugar.

Our first product and FLA products is propping bowls. They're with no added sugar, they're with signature tastes, which are made for us. They're protected. The Bulgaria for it's unique. We are the first protein both on the Bulgarian market gluten free, lactose free for most of the flavors. No transfer fats, no artificial I'll say inte.

And the whole point in the company is to transform plantations to product innovations and just to eat. Because I love sweets and most of the women, for example, are craving sweets and do not feel guilty when they consume them just to eat sweet, stay in shape, and move to the next task of your day with the free mind.

Yeah. Every night my wife and I, we eat chocolate. You know, we tell the kids no candy, and we put them to bed and then we break out the chocolate for ourselves. Right. Wow. But this is becoming a bad habit, so I feel like maybe we should try. And because they're healthy, maybe they could replace the chocolate.

And so we won't feel guilty is chocolate. It's protein chocolate and it's with no sugar. Okay? Not just no other sugar. It's with no sugar. And we just want to have the most functional. Chocolate, which is totally guilt-free. And yeah, that's our next product that we are working pla right now at the moment.

I'd love to try 'em. I'd love to try 'em when they become available. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Soon. . Okay. So the first car bites, did you make them in your kitchen or did you have, did you have an idea and you toda somebody, you know, a chef about them? And how did you experiment to get where they are now? Yeah, on.

Next one actually. That's the second option. That's the right guess. I'm not a chef. I'm not a cooker and I'm not really good at that. But I Sweet. And I'm also in the fitness industry and I know the problems. I know what I'm seeking for, looking for, which is to have high quality protein, no added sugar reduced calorie.

For example, and to be tasty. Yeah. So that's the, the basis to just drink it some sweet and feel happy about it. So that was the start was like a brief and what's on the market, what I want from a product and operat mine at that time. She's a pastry chef and she became a co-founder in the beginning of the company.

And she realized the first the first flavor, which is coro and Mala, and it's protecting the patents of Bulgaria as you already know. And I mentioned. And the next the next two flavors, which is piece on a chocolate with orange and berry sounds. Sounds good. It is. Yeah. And white chocolate and fix these two flavors.

They're made by master chef panelist, who is also an overboard building champion, B champion here. And yeah, he did. The second and the third flavor. And with that flavor in the kitchen, mate we just hired good technologies for technologies and we went to our production facility to do the fine tuning and do it in a mass scale.

So that's the, the track shot for, for the flavor. Ah, very interesting. Okay. Now, have you taken on any investment, and if so, what was that experience like to get your first investor on board? Yeah. We have investors it's it's pretty new actually. Our graduation to March this year was 1 million level, which is 500,000 Euro.

And we had a pre lending of 10%, which is 50,000 Euro. For that. So yes, we have an investment before that and we actually received it this September. So for two years and more, two, two years and two months. And we're totally bootstrapped and it's our money with our. Partners. I have a strategic partner who is the ex general manager of Mons.

Mm-hmm. Bulgaria and Mons is part of, craft is one of the biggest food companies in the world. It's, that's Muco, Oreo Topple. So Shirt for example. So Bury. So the general manager for Bulgaria, she's a partner of mine and she possess 20% in our company. So that's the team. But it's, it's totally bootstrapped until now.

Okay. And right now we are skating with our next products with the national distribution and potential export. How are you getting the product to market? Any specific tactics that you're using to get stores to display the product and sell it for you? Yeah. It's it's pretty traditional in our case, and in most cases, actually, at least in Bulgaria we just have an conservator who is a big one.

It's one of the, it's the first be bio distributor in Bulgaria. So this a 15 year old company, which recognizes those, those Good product, innovative product. So right now we are in 200 and plus locations in, in Sofia. This is made for three months. Last three months. Okay. So we're increasing with around 15 new locations per month.

Okay. And we are right now in all the big gray shops in in Bulgaria. There are several green. Buy, buy shops. So we are there. Okay. How does that work? Because I don't know, does, does the distributor say, well, we'll, we'll market your products to these stores. We'll get them in the stores, but if they don't sell or if the, if the stores don't if, if they're not selling, then we'll no longer be your distributor.

I'm, I'm just. Just from a very high level, how does that relationship work? They take a really nice percentage for them. And so we sell them at a lower price for the distributor. Oh. So they're like a hosts seller. Okay. You're like, okay. Wholesale price. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Right. That's, and actually our product is with one year one year duration.

Yeah. The product. So we, we don't have garbage, so I don't know if I said, but yeah, it's, it's a pretty long duration, so it's, it's nice. It's rotating very well actually. So, yeah, that's, Now has, has there been a time in your life, and it doesn't have to relate to Cardinal Bites, but has there been a time in your life that you thought you were onto something, but it turned out to be totally wrong?

Maybe you had a really good business idea and you pursued it and you were, it totally turned into. It was unsuccessful. Actually I haven't felt the business yet, but because I have two businesses I haven't felt, but they have transformed. For example, when I started with my previous business, which is called B, it's helping people with bitch antique problems with over eating problems.

I'm a qualified nutritionist for. What I saw is that when you're when you have problems with eating, which are eating disorder, I don't have the right to advise people for that because I'm not a medical doctor or I'm not a psychiatrist and it's part of the it's part of the law. It's the, the helpful here.

So what I did is to. People positioning. Pretty soon actually. I just from the moment I had cut for that and he told me I'm doing something wrong, I just pivoted to helping people to strength their healthy relationship with food. So I'm not talking about bitching, I'm not talking outside eating disorder.

It's just about sustainable eating habits. Okay. So, okay, so let's pretend, for example, I had a problem with food. I reach out to consult with you. What would be like a typical plan for me? How would you, what would you tell me or advise me? Mm-hmm. Why would Case by case, but first of all, we have a conversation which is around 30.

For your specific daily life, your specific problems, circles, et cetera. But if we have an at nutrition plan, it's totally in video. It's for your macros, your calorie meats, your purposes we don't label foods as good or bad, for example. Yeah, it's all about moderation. It's really good if you want to track your foot at some point, just if you want to be accountable to someone.

For example, me as your trainer, I should see your foot at some point. It's easier if you use applications and just, I have a direct. The view of your foot with the application there is fat secret, for example, is one of these applications. And I just hear photo real time so you don't have to screenshot me anything.

Also if you just And I'll take a picture of your phone if you don't want to track. That's also reliable and and so it's okay for tracking. So it's all about the individual plan and it's about your foot preferences, your goals, your metabolic state, your way of life right now. So it's a lot of calculations actually, their formula for, for that, their formula, how to calculate your protein intake, fiber intake.

So yeah, that's it. That's the how to say. So the, the way to go as a example, we did a of, we do a lot of self. Self-help exercises once a week. I send lots educational materials, so people are the ones that I'm working with or they're just increasing their food education. The same thing. Okay. It sounds like you're so much more than just a, than just a nutritionist coach, that you're actually really making a positive impact in the in your client's lives here.

Last question before we go. This is sort of a fun question. You're gonna fill in the blank on this one. Okay. Jaina, the question is, instead of flowers, For Valentine's Day, you would rather receive blank protein balls. . Okay. Protein Vos. All right, Jaina, thank you so much for being a guest on Innovators Laugh.

It was a pleasure having you here. Pleasure having you having this here. Thank very much for the Invitational one work time and yeah, I'll be for any next time if you'll Yeah, I'll include the. Thank you. I, I'll include the links to Jaina where you can get in touch with her and car bites and the show notes for everybody listening.

Thank you so much. Tell everybody else about it. That's how we grow. And until next week keep hustling out there and have a great weekend. Cheers. Cheers. Thank you.

Thanks for listening to the show. If you enjoyed it, I'd really appreciate it if you could give us a review and star rating. Also, don't forget to sign up for the ICO where you can get the bio in details of each guest. Thanks.