Power Pops Protein takes first place in 2020 Regis Innovation Challenge

Regis business alumnus’ food startup receives $10,000 in funding


In his second year at Regis University, Ben Williamson saw a photo of himself that inspired major changes in his diet and fitness. Only five years later, Williamson’s healthful journey has spurred a budding business — and now, an extra $10,000 in funding from The Innovation Center at Regis. 

Williamson’s startup, Power Pops Protein, took first place Saturday, June 16, in Regis’ third-annual Innovation Challenge, a business competition featuring the business ideas of Regis students, alumni and community members. Power Pops’ products are low-carb, high-protein “puffs” that Williamson first developed to improve his own unhealthy eating habits.

As the first-place winner, Williamson earned not only the $10,000 in funding but also business mentorship and co-working space in Regis’ Innovation Center. 

Innovation Challenge: Over 1,450 Votes and Stiff Competition

More than 1,450 votes were cast Saturday to determine the winner of the Innovation Challenge, which went virtual this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. All seven business pitches may be found on Anderson College’s Innovation Challenge YouTube channel. 

Williamson finished ahead of second-place winners Tammy Lyons, Jas Lyons and Tara Braymer, who pitched the She Bra, an alternative to the traditional bra. The third-place winner was Volta, a startup created by Daniel and Shantel Boerner that seeks to serve as a one-stop-shop helping their customers with credit repair, debt consolidation and real estate services. 

The main criteria for this year’s judging were product desirability, feasibility and viability, and the quality of each team’s presentation. The event, hosted by Regis’ Anderson College of Business and Computing, was so well-supported by business alumni that each of the seven finalists left with startup cash. 

“I wanted to make a snack I wish I could have had, something that would fill me up enough not to reach for the unhealthy stuff."

- Ben Williamson, founder of Power Pops Protein

Power Pops: From Mom’s Kitchen to 10-plus Stores 

After the photo during his sophomore year showed Williamson he needed to move toward a healthier lifestyle, he soon learned it wouldn’t be easy: Standing in his way were a nut allergy and an inability to find quality protein-based snacks.

“I’m at the gym, I’m watching what I eat, but when I went to look for snacks that were high in protein, tasted good and were nut-free — I couldn’t find anything,” said Williamson, who graduated with a business degree from Regis in 2017.

He got to work developing his own solution, trying more than 1,300 ideas over three years, mostly in his parents’ kitchen. He settled on the small puffs, which he now sells online and at more than 10 locations in Colorado and California. 

“I wanted to make a snack I wish I could have had, something that would fill me up enough not to reach for the unhealthy stuff,” he said.

Williamson plans to use half of the winnings from the competition to buy a machine that will simplify and standardize the packing process for his snacks. He says the other half will go toward marketing efforts to secure potential partnerships with professional athletes. Agents for players in the four major American professional sports leagues already have reached out to him about potential endorsements, Williamson says.


About Regis University

Established in 1877, Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit Catholic tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. One of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, Regis has four campus locations in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs and extensive online program offerings with more than 8,000 enrolled students.