Play Hard and Give Back through nutrition, athletes and causes

I respect entrepreneurs that bring life experiences into an idea, then into a reality of creating a company that is bettering the world.

I'm a huge fan of both action sports and non for profit organisations. PlayHard GiveBack, a social company based out of Sun Valley, Idaho, caught my attention by using both of these elements to help build a uniquely positioned brand. With the purchase of one of their snacking products, you choose to support a NPO championed by one of their athletes.

In a nutshell:

  1. You choose what kind of snack you want
  2. You choose an athlete that is already paired with the cause he or she has decided to support
  3. You snack, nourish your body and your soul by doing some good!

Curious, I caught up with co-founder Spencer Brendel to learn more about the enterprise.

Hey Spencer, where are you from?

Born in Lodi, CA but I say I'm from Sun Valley, Idaho as I grew up here since age 4. 

Describe PHGB in three sentences or less? 

Since day one, the PlayHard GiveBack Team has envisioned an athletic community united around the importance of giving back. Our healthy and tasty snacks are meant to fuel your appetite for social change while spreading the PHGB message of going beyond sport and doing good.

What event transformed PHGB from an idea to an actual business?

The idea transferred from idea to reality once I got accepted into an entrepreneurship grant program called

I also used the business plan and concept for my senior project in college. Upon handing in my project's final draft, my professor handed me a $7000 check and said “I think this thing has legs, I want to be your first investor.”

Before getting accepted into the entrepreneurship program, it was an idea that my dad and I had while traveling down the coast of California. I wanted to be more creative and leverage my connections within the sports community instead of following the norm of corporate cubical life.  

Who was the first athlete and what was the first cause that you brought on board?

The first athlete was Travis Ganong. He's a US Ski Team member on the World Cup. He actually wanted to work with two non profits: and Travis was a huge part of how PHGB was started and was instrumental in our learning process. 

Travis Ganong

I read that you use to travel a lot with your grand parents. Can you elaborate on that?

My grandpa used to be involved with the non governmental organisation, ADRA ( He would have projects all over the world including Cambodia, Africa, and Asia. It was one of the most educational experiences of my life and it greatly shaped my outlook on life today. 

What is your favorite bag of PHGB?

KarmaKandy, I love the peanut butter cups! 

Who influences you the most in our world today?

My dad for sure. But someone else that people could relate to would be Blake Mycoskie (TOMS' Founder). I respect entrepreneurs that bring life experiences into an idea, then into a reality of creating a company that is bettering the world. 

What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

I'm in the middle of The E Myth right now. I like taking lessons away from it. 

How were you able to connect with such an amazing roaster of athletes? 

In the beginning it was a learning process. But now, we've established a well enough foundation that athletes approach us. It's appealing for athletes to be associated with a brand that is doing good and helps give them purpose. We try and partner with athletes that want to be involved for all the right reasons and that’s where we get an authentic and unique roster of amazing athletes.

Your guys have an awesome RV! What do you use it for?

The RV is where it all began during the road trip down the coast of CA. Now we use it for events around the country that involve our athletes and non profits. It’s a great piece of marketing! We have also let athletes take it on their own trips. 

What is the cause that you hold closest to your heart and why?

I really like the The founder, Roy Tuscany, is a badass! I respect him as a business man and I respect the awesome non profit that he's created. As an athlete, it's a very real possibility that you might get seriously hurt. He has provided a great foundation for athletes that have gone through some serious injuries and need help. In addition the organization helps raises awareness on how to better prevent serious injuries. 

PHGB has many causes and many athletes to support. You’ve been in contact with many NPOs and have most likely seen a fair share of problems that need solving. What is one problem that you believe is crucial for us to figure out in the following years?

I’ve found that climate change is a hot topic with many of our athletes. Many of them depend on the natural environment to continue their sport. From the ocean to the snowy peaks, it’s all connected. Raising awareness and giving people solid information on how to help with this problem is crucial.

Protect Our Winter ( is an organization that we work with that does a great job raising awareness, while incorporating well known, influential athletes.

You play hockey pretty seriously. What are your other hobbies?

Sun Valley is a very special place to live! There are endless opportunities to pick up several hobbies. In the summer time you can find me up at the mountain lakes water skiing, wake surfing, and chillin' on the dock enjoying the sunset with a cold brew. In the winter, skiing is at the top of the list! If not on our local mountain, Mt. Baldy, you can find me deep in the sawtooth backcountry. 

Spencer Play Hard Give Back

Can we look forward to any new products by PHGB in the coming year?

For sure! We are currently working on product development and will be coming out with two new trail mixes and two new bars. We want to offer more of a tropical mix as well as a sweet and spicy! 

Where can people learn more about Play Hard Give Back (site, social media, etc).

Instagram: @playhardgiveback

Twitter: @PHGBgives

Facebook: PlayHard-GiveBack 

You can also sign up for our newsletter! 

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Change the World Blog

Notox - Creating surfboards without killing ourselves
Notox - Creating surfboards without killing ourselves

Read More

KeepCup - Join the Reuse Revolution with Abagail Forsyth
KeepCup - Join the Reuse Revolution with Abagail Forsyth

Early on in KeepCup’s life, one designer dismissed the product as the “stupidest idea I’ve ever seen.” Today KeepCup has sold more than 3 million reusable mugs in over 30 countries. I guess it's fair to say he was wrong.

Read More

Outerknown - Surfing Takes on Sustainable Fashion
Outerknown - Surfing Takes on Sustainable Fashion

“I created Outerknown to smash the formula. To lift the lid on the traditional supply chain and prove that you can actually produce great looking menswear." - Kelly Slater

Read More