Interview: TruEnergy on crowdfunding its natural sports drink
As seen in Foodbev Media:
Published November 19, 2015
“As an athlete, I noticed teammates constantly drinking artificial sports drinks. I knew there had to be a better way.”
These are the words of Jack McNamara, former professional hockey player and CEO of TruEnergy
TruEnergy is a new sports drink hoping to re-energise the market. Marketed as the “world’s first organic sports shot”, the team behind the innovation has just launched a Kickstarter campaign in a bid to raise $20,000 by 17 December to help get the business off to a running start. Within eight hours of launching, the team has already passed 10% of their Kickstarter goal and support continues to roll in. We spoke to Jack McNamara about its innovation, why people should support the drink and plans for the future.
Tell us about TruEnergy. How does it differ from other sports drinks on the market?
Caffeinated with green tea extract and sweetened with honey, TruEnergy is infused with vitamins, electrolytes, and antioxidants. Built by former elite athletes, our performance beverage revitalises, rehydrates, and reenergises better than the competition to help athletes and active lifestyle individuals feel good and perform better. The goal of our drink was to merge three categories: sports drinks, multivitamins, and energy shots. Despite paying more, we knew that natural was the way to go, so we are pushing for a “made with organic ingredients” claim as well. Most sports drinks are artificially sweetened with mountains of sugar, multivitamins are hard to swallow and contain days’ worth of vitamins, and energy shots are heavily caffeinated causing jitters and a major crash. We are completely different.
Tell us about your R&D process. Did you do a lot of market research?
As a company, we have done tons of homework, especially utilising comparative analysis. We have researched the top-selling sports drinks, multivitamins, and energy shots to find out which ingredients showed up the most consistently. For example, our formula has a greater range of vitamins than Vitamin Water and more electrolytes than Gatorade. We also obsessively researched all of the vitamins, electrolytes, sweeteners, and the stimulating effects of caffeine. We found out which vitamins athletes had the highest chance of deficiency of, and what amounts of electrolytes seemed most logical. In addition, we hired a former pro hockey player with a food science degree in Mathias Kaufmann to head up our R&D remotely out of Copenhagen. He has done a lot of great work for us, but most importantly, he found out what level of caffeine would have a stimulating effect while decreasing the chance of a crash as well as the jitters. We also met with numerous dietitians who have worked with pro sports teams to hammer out the best formula.
You’ve just started your Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000. Why do you think people will back this project?
In the end, I think people will back our TruEnergy Kickstarter because we are creating a healthier alternative to 5-Hour energy while adding more functionality. Products like 5-Hour Energy have about 8,300% of your [recommended daily intake] for vitamin B12. No one needs 83 days’ worth of vitamins in one shot. More is not better. Also, unlike many of the beverages on the market that are over caffeinated and artificially sweetened, we have green tea extract and honey. There is no need to overcomplicate things. Natural is better.
How did you come up with the branding and pack design? What message are you trying to convey?
My business partner and former high school classmate, Robert Avakian, and I came up with the brand after a week of throwing around names. It was like playing a high stakes game of Boggle. Eventually, we came upon TruEnergy and thought it was the perfect fit for us. What could be more natural than the word Tru? As for the pack design, I taught myself how to use 3D software so that I could bring my vision into reality. After finalising a prototype, we had to bring it to a designer to make sure that the bottle could withstand hot fill and run on a standard line. We are still in that process now. In the end, we want our brand to be innovative, healthy and premium.
What’s the plan after the campaign? How will the money be used?
The money is going to be used to purchase our first run of TruEnergy. In the beverage industry, there are huge upfront capital expenses, and we needed more money, so we reached out to the crowd for a hand on Kickstarter. We are also using the campaign as a proof of concept to show investors that we have proven traction so that we can do a small seed raise. Our next step will be to do a micro launch in NYC. We are targeting premium workout facilities like Equinox, Soul Cycle, and Cross Fit. We are also in the process of partnering with elite athletes and sports teams. Our long term goal is to offer a healthy functional solution to athletes everywhere so that they do not have to sacrifice natural ingredients. We want athletes to feel good and perform better.