Game Changers: Daria Medvedeva and Arina Kuzmina Revolutionize Sports Nutrition with RawQ

Arina Kuzmina and Daria Medvedeva, founder of RawQ, with tennis star Daniil Medvedev

Snack for Success: In the realm of professional tennis, athletes understand that every advantage counts. One often-overlooked factor that plays a pivotal role in reaching their full potential on the court is nutrition. That’s why Daria Medvedeva, a former tennis player and the wife of tennis star Daniil Medvedev, teamed up with her friend Arina Kuzmina, a certified health and integrative nutrition coach. Together, they embarked on a mission to redefine sports nutrition, creating innovative energy bars for their brand RawQ and setting a new standard for taste, health, and performance.


Meet the RawQ founders Arina & Daria

Arina Kuzmina and Daria Medvedeva, founders of RawQ

Shaping the Future of Nutrition: With RawQ, Daria “Dasha” Medvedeva and Arina Kuzmina have disrupted the energy bar industry, revolutionizing the way athletes and health-conscious individuals approach their nutrition. We wanted to delve deeper into this unique project and get to know the female founders behind it. In this exclusive interview, Arina and Daria share their insights on the evolution of their brand, the challenges they overcame, and their vision…

What inspired you to establish RawQ? 

Daria: Daniil had been working with his doctor for some time, focusing on his diet and food preferences. At some point, they attempted to find energy bars that would be perfect for his tournaments or practices. They discovered a few options, but the taste seemed a bit strange, and there were also some concerns about their ingredients. Around the same time, I had a very close friend, Arina, who was studying diet and food. That’s when we thought about collaborating to create something really interesting and new. That’s how the idea was born, and after a few years of challenging work, we finally succeeded in creating something really nice that Daniil uses every day.

“The bars were originally designed for Daniil to meet his standards and his needs. Then we decided to scale it up and help those who were experiencing the same issue, ensuring that they never have to compromise between taste, flavor and performance.”

Arina Kuzmina

Arina: I have a business background, but I also have a background in nutrition. I studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Two and a half years ago, Dasha came to me with a problem. Basically, Daniil genuinely could not find a bar on the market that he could eat while he’s practicing or playing a tournament. The issue was that he loves energy bars, but unfortunately, those available on the market were either natural but very high in sugar because they contained dates or agave syrup, or they were low in sugar but contained a lot of additives, preservatives, and unwanted ingredients. Even though dates and agave syrup are considered healthy, they are still very high in sugar, causing blood sugar levels to spike and then drop, resulting in mood swings, blood sugar level fluctuations, and more.

When we started developing the recipe for Daniil, we also realized that not only Daniil had this problem. I myself never used to eat energy bars before because I knew they were high in sugar, even though they were considered healthy. I never wanted to be in the kind of lose-lose situation where I didn’t get the promised health benefits and didn’t get the taste of a Snickers. So the bars were originally designed for Daniil to meet his standards and his needs. Then we decided to scale it up and help those who were experiencing the same issue, ensuring that they never have to compromise between taste, flavor and performance.

RawQ Daniil Medvedev

Arina: We talked to Daniil and his team and established a set of criteria that we needed to adhere to when developing the bars. The first criteria was that it had to be 100 percent natural, excluding dates, agave syrup, and other high-sugar ingredients that claim to be healthy but are still very high in sugar and make your blood sugar level spike. Of course, flavor was also a priority for us because we believe that if you are eating right on a daily basis it has to be exciting. Our final criteria was that the bars needed to provide long-lasting energy. Unlike our competitors, they should not spike your blood sugar level and provide energy for only an hour. Instead, they should offer sustained energy for three to four hours. That’s when buckwheat, our superstar ingredient, stepped in. Despite its name, this pseudograin is completely gluten-free and has been clinically proven to reduce and stabilize your blood sugar level.

⠀”Product development is like
⠀magic and science combined together.”⠀

What was the biggest challenge you faced in developing your products? 

Arina: The biggest challenge, to be honest, was to not give up and to not compromise, because we had a very long journey. When we say that we just substituted dates and agave syrup for something else, it may sound simple, but in practice, it was very difficult. Basically, what we did was remove the syrupy bonding ingredient. When you remove that bonding ingredient, you need to reconfigure everything else. We approached 87 factories, all of which turned us down, saying they didn’t even want to try our idea. Finally, we found a production facility that was willing to make a change and believed in our idea as much as we did. They had also grown tired of the homogenous saturated market. We began working closely with them, and during this process, we faced 17 failed factory trials, broke down 5 mixers, experienced 5 electricity cutouts, and failed 5 water activity tests. Not giving up and maintaining faith in ourselves and our project, believing it would succeed, was probably the hardest part. However, we knew we had each other and an amazing product development team, so together, we went for it, I’d say, quite well.

Daria: Another part, of course, was not to compromise. For example, when a sample would fit the factory trial, pass the water activity level test, and meet all other criteria, but we did not entirely like the taste or thought the color was off, or the texture was not right, we had to undergo another factory trial. Basically, not compromising on the quality of the product, its performance, and its taste was challenging. Honestly, product development is like magic and science combined together. It’s an exciting, albeit challenging, process.


How do you complement each other as a team of co-founders? 

Arina: Dasha and I, in my opinion, make a perfect power couple. We are ideal partners; she is my best friend, and I’m the godmother of her daughter, baby Alisa. Now, we are business partners, and being able to fight for our dreams and achieve our goals with someone you care about so deeply on a personal level is incredible. Yes, there are, of course, risks when you start a business with friends; sometimes it might not work out, and there’s a possibility of losing a friendship. This risk always exists, but I believe that Dasha and I effectively separate our work and friendship. We use our friendship to boost our work, but we don’t let the work ruin our friendship. If anything, being business partners has strengthened our friendship, because going through numerous challenges together allows us to see each other from different sides. It’s a perfect bonding experience and bonding time.

We also complement each other quite well. From my perspective, I tend to look at the situation long-term. I strive to establish a vision and consider where we want to go, visualizing our big goals. Dasha, on the other hand, tends to think more short-term, which helps keep us grounded and focused on the present. I inspire her to think about our long-term directions, ensuring we stay committed to them, while she keeps me grounded. That’s one way we complement each other. Secondly, Dasha is a great visionary. She’s highly creative and has lots of ideas for new product development, design, and how things should look. She has great taste, and I can basically manage all of these creative aspects, translating our dreams into reality. However, I need her creative push. Dasha serves as the creative mind behind our venture, while I handle the operational and business development aspects. It’s fantastic when two people with such complementary skills come together because one is more creative while the other is more hands-on and logical. This balance ensures that we do not lack anything. The biggest way we complement each other, though, is just by being there for each other, going through all the struggles together, but also sharing the joys of small victories together. It feels extremely special.

“We are a funny team of co-founders, because Arina is loving every proposal and everyone around and I am very strict to everyone around. So it’s like the opposite. She is saying yes to everyone, I’m saying no to everyone.”

Daria Medvedeva

Why is proper nutrition so crucial for peak athletic performance? 

Arina: Nutrition is one of the vital components when it comes to athletic performance. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle, although not the only one. Training, recovery, sleep, emotional wellbeing, stress management, and more all play important roles. Nutrition, however, is definitely one of the foundational pillars. First of all we have to think about the macronutrients ratio rate. Adequate and high-quality carbohydrates supply the energy needed for workouts and competitions, while fats, for example, provide a longer-lasting energy source. Our bars contain a combination of both. We have healthy fats in the presence of nuts and we have the highest quality of carbohydrates possible in the form of buckwheat, our superstar ingredient. When they come together it is magic – it gives you energy supply for the workout and the competition, but it also gives you this long lasting kick.

Additionally, buckwheat is rich in protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. This protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth, which is especially important for athletes since muscles are central to their performance. Proteins and amino acids, found in buckwheat or other protein sources, are essential for muscle maintenance, repair, strength, endurance, and recovery. When you work out or compete, your muscles undergo stress and damage, leading to growth but also the need for proper recovery. And that’s when protein kicks in.

“Nutrition is one of the vital components when it comes to athletic performance. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle, although not the only one. Training, recovery, sleep, emotional wellbeing, stress management, and more all play important roles. Nutrition, however, is definitely one of the foundational pillars.”

Arina Kuzmina

Plus, let’s not forget that what we eat also influences our immune system, as it impacts our gut microbiome. About 80 percent of our immune cells live in our gut microbiome. So what we eat basically determines what kind of gut microbiome we have and what kinds of bacteria live there. When athletes eat high-quality food and maintain proper nutrition, the gut microbiome is happy, ensuring proper immune support and the immunce defence levels are at their highest capacity. This, of course, reduces the risk of various cold illnesses that could hinder training and competition.

When you’re traveling for 11 months on tour, constantly changing locations and time zones, while interacting with many people, it’s crucial to ensure that your body is well-prepared for anything that might come your way. Having a strong immune system is key because one week of illness can knock you out for many weeks of competition, requiring extensive recovery – something that no one wants to happen, of course.

And when we are talking about micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, they not only maintain all the systems of your body functioning properly, including the immune system and cognitive functions, but they are also crucial for bone health and injury prevention. When it comes to athletes, these things are absolutely essential. It’s better to be on the preventive side here and ensure that your body is strong enough to tolerate everything rather than dealing with the consequences later. Nutrition can, of course, help you to do that.

Finally, calories are energy. When you are competing, you need a reliable source of energy that won’t let you down. You need something that will provide you with enough energy to continue the fight without experiencing an energy dip. Achieving this requires being wise about your nutrition. It means eating a proper meal two hours before the competition so that it doesn’t sit in your stomach and provides enough energy. It also involves having proper, long-lasting snacks like RawQ on hand for when your energy starts to drop. What you eat directly influences how you perform and how you compete. If you eat something high in sugar, you’ll experience a quick energy spike, but it will also drop rapidly. This will lead to reduced endurance, concentration levels, cognitive functions, and, ultimately, your overall game will be negatively affected simply because you didn’t eat properly.

What dietary advice do you have for athletes in general? 

Daria: First of all, consume plenty of water, avoid sauces, grilled food, and fast food, and minimize sugar intake as much as possible. Additionally, it may vary for different people, but for Daniil, his diet is mostly gluten-free.

Photo: © RawQ

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