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Ron Penna

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Profile

Ron Penna is the CEO and co-founder of health-conscious snack company Quest Nutrition. Before getting into the business of crafting nutritious snack options, however, Penna had a career in Internet marketing. In the late-1990s he founded Website Results with college friends Mike Osborn and Kevin Smith. The company, which focused on the relatively new field of search engine optimization, rode the dot-com wave so successfully that in August 2000 it was purchased by online ad giant 24/7 Real Media for $95 million in stock. The three co-founders stayed onboard to run the company as an independent operating unit under 24/7 Real Media, but were fired in May 2001 for undisclosed reasons.

Penna’s tech-sector career didn’t halt there, however. After parting ways with 24/7 Real Media, the three partners founded Intellitech Web Solutions, an SEO company evolved from software they had developed during their time with 24/7. In 2002, Osborn and Penna also founded Awareness Technologies, which originally developed technology for use in counter-terrorism. The company was highly successful, and at on point was ranked the 42nd fastest-growing company in North America by Deloitte and Touche.

After selling Awareness Technologies in 2010, Penna and Osborn were ready to explore a different path. As fitness lovers and health-conscious eaters, they found themselves inspired by the homemade nutrition bars made by Penna’s wife, Shannan. Along with fellow fitness aficionado and former Awareness Technologies CMO Tom Bilyeu, they decided to found a company to sell and market these unique, sugar-free nutrition bars. Quest Nutrition was born.

Beginning with two flavors produced in a small commercial kitchen in 2010, the business grew quickly, and the co-founders were soon purchasing their first machinery to produce the bars. Despite struggles in mass producing the product while maintaining the ideals it was founded on, Quest Nutrition has managed to see continuous rapid expansion while holding to their principles. Now a thriving company of 630 employees, they offer more than fifteen flavors of QuestBars, as well as various other products, including protein powders, pasta, chips, and peanut butter cups. The El Segundo, California-based company made Inc Magazine’s list of the 5000 fastest-growing companies in the United States in 2014, coming in as the second-fastest-growing company in the nation that year.

Companies and Investments

Quest Nutrition (Co-Founder, CEO), Awareness Technologies (Co-Founder), Intellitech Web Solutions (Co-Founder), Website Results (Co-Founder)

Lessons Learned

Never say never. Never quit. There were some gnarly times in the beginning, and I didn't know how we'd get out of it. But we just wouldn't stop. (Ron Penna on determination in the face of adversity, in Inc Magazine.)

Inspiring Quotes

Every battle is won before it is ever fought.

Sun Tzu

Dont fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.

Bruce Lee

Ron Penna's Quotes

Nothing feels better than living according to a strategy. Once you have created a purpose for yourself, every action you take is building towards something bigger.

Ron Penna

People place too much value on the idea and not enough on the continued effort it will take to make things happen. Being ably to generate massive mental energy is the key.

Ron Penna

Never say never. Never quit.

Ron Penna

Influential Books

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