Finance and marketing alumnus Ryan Rendfrey uses his superpowers for good as he works to transform athletic performance.
To Ryan Rendfrey ’03, superheroes are in his DNA. He already has his own superhero name, “Renergy.”
“I define it as a positive force of energy to make a difference,” he says.
Rendfrey grew up in the small town of Riverside, New Jersey. “I wrestled and played football in high school,” he recalls. “But I had a passion for golf and wanted to play in college. I remember visiting [then Philadelphia University] with my mom and grandfather. I met the golf coach, but it was meeting Brian Lee in admissions that changed the game. He sat down with us, answered all our questions, and offered insight and feedback. That experience sold me. I went from the Riverside Rams to the PhilaU (now Jefferson) Rams.”
Rendfrey was awarded an annual $5,000 scholarship and, as captain of the Men’s Golf Team, was awarded the Bucky Harris Scholarship Award as a sophomore. In his senior year, he was selected by Tom Shirley, (then) Jefferson University athletic director, as the Male Athletic Director Award winner. “I was so proud,” he says. “It is something I will never forget.”
After graduating with a double major in finance and marketing, his journey took him from positions in financial services and start-up nonprofits to his position in marketing today. “I am a man on a mission,” Rendfrey says. “I always had big dreams to make a difference in people’s lives. I felt like I was here to do something amazing—and had the entrepreneurial spirit to do my own thing.”
Rendfrey’s athletics career spawned a novel idea—creating a weighted compression suit for athletes. He observed baseball players using weighted donuts on bats during practice to increase swing speed and had an “Aha” moment. He explains, “What if you can add weight to an athlete’s body to increase athletic performance?”
There were some practical questions Rendfrey first had to solve. “For contact sports like football and wrestling, it isn’t safe to put an athlete in harm’s way by putting objects externally on the body such as gel, sand or metal inserts like traditional weighted workout solutions. The only real way is to create a weighted fabric.”
Rendfrey located a textile company as a strategic partner. It was a delicate balance, but after two iterations they were able to create a stretchy fabric, now patent-pending in the U.S., that utilizes weighted fibers, while also providing a greater range of movement and mobility. He then connected with a company to create a prototype and also reconnected with his former mentor Brian Lee, now an executive with THINK450, (SVP, Player Marketing & I.D.E.A.S. Lab), which is the revenue generating arm for the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), and has teamed up with his colleague Que Gaskins (President, THINK450) to serve on Rendfrey's Board of Directors.
The “Super Suit” was born. “I love superheroes,” he says. “Our product slogan is ‘Practice Heavy, Perform Light.’”
In 2022, Rendfrey’s prototype was ready for testing. The results of the first independent sports performance study were promising, showing increases of 2% in speed, 8% in strength, and 19% in power within four weeks and 12 workouts.
“We believe that wearing our Super Suit helps the body recover faster, keeps the athlete safer, and minimizes injuries,” Rendfrey says, noting the potential uses for physical therapy and rehabilitation in the future.
Rendfrey’s family is never far from his mind. Married to his high school sweetheart, they share four children. “My greatest goal is to be a mentor to my kids and teach them that if you have a dream and work hard, you can achieve anything you put your mind to,” he says. “To prove it to them, I have to do it myself.”
To bring his product to life and to market, Rendfrey and his wife created a company, Hero Gear, Inc., and are actively raising capital and pursuing medical research opportunities.
“Jefferson invested in me,” he says. “My goal is to someday be the single largest donor to the University. Jefferson is near and dear to my heart. If I could go back in time and do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”