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LTT Business Bulletin - August 2017

We speak to LTT member Jacqui Nolan-Neylan about the 

journey so far for Revvies Energy Strips

 

What do you do?

My husband and I developed a new product called Revvies Energy Strips, an ultra-thin strip that dissolves on your tongue and gives you an instant caffeine boost. It’s available at Chemist Warehouse and independent retailers in Australia and New Zealand and we are just launching in the UK.

How did it come about?

We LOVE coffee, doesn’t everyone? But there was nothing more frustrating than getting to the gym or having an early morning start and not having time, or being able to find coffee – so we came up with the idea of a coffee in your pocket. We met a manufacturer who was doing teeth whitening strips and asked them to create a strip with caffeine on it. When we received our first prototype we did a lot of market research, and spent weeks out on the streets asking people to try the product and give us feedback, the results were really promising, 40% of people said they would take it over an energy drink and this rose to 77% when the person described themselves as sporty so we decided to go for it and created the brand and launched a market trial.

How were the early years?

We commenced our market trial by signing up 180 convenience stores in Australia and New Zealand to sell the product and spent the next 2-3 years testing and adapting our sales and marketing strategy. I was literally walking the streets every day with a granny-trolley full of Revvies selling to convenience stores and gaining on the ground feedback. It certainly paid to have energy strips on hand at that time! This was invaluable as it gave us great insights about our rate of sale, marketing strategy and positioning. We then completed our first investment round and launched into Chemist Warehouse.

Most exciting moment?

There have been a few. A few months after launching, we were approached by World Cup Winning Triathlete and Sports Dietitian Pip Taylor who loved the product and wanted to work with us, she became our first ambassador. Word quickly spread about our product benefits through the elite sporting ranks, and now Revvies is part of the nutritional plan for athletes in the Olympics and teams in the NRL, AFL, A-League, Rugby 16s, Super Netball, Cricket and even across the shores in the English Premier League. We have also become a preferred supplier to High Performance Sport New Zealand and recently were asked to make Revvies available to US athletes by dietitians in their Olympic Committee.

Another huge moment was being invited to become part of the MIL – MediaVest Innovation Lab (now known as Spark Foundry), created to use their vast experience, networks and resources to help promising start-ups go global. This was particularly exciting as the MIL only works with three companies at any one time.

Any tips?

Persistence pays off. It hasn’t all been roses and we have certainly had our fair share of challenges. The first came very early on when we were hit with a trademark dispute by a leading energy drink company. It took a lot of resources and 12 months before we came to a settlement and could move on. It was a tough time but there were a number of benefits to come out of that as we took it as an opportunity to evaluate and improve our product and brand. When we re-launched we had a stronger brand and launched a second flavour which is now our most popular.

More recently we thought we had completed our second investment round only for it to fall away at the 11th hour and 59th minute. Once again we are faced with a shoestring budget and are now taking this opportunity to pause, take stock, grow our community and open the round again in the coming weeks.

The second tip is to surround yourself with people better than you and always ask advice, even when you think you know the answer. We have been blown away by the unending support from the Revvies community, from athletes who compete at the highest level to mums like me and everyday people who love Revvies and willing to help out anyway they can. We are so lucky to have some amazing advocates who also act as advisors such as Adam Ballesty, Marketing and Innovation Director of Diageo, Dave Berry, Director of Finance and Commercial of BAKU 2017, Chris Ash, Angel Investor and founder of Ash Gaming, and of course John Holland, Jason Tunbridge and Craig Purcell at LTT.

Where to next?

We are completing a listing with Holland and Barrett and Wiggle.com in the UK, working on launching in the USA and exploring some interesting leads into China and Japan. Our favourite saying here is Nelson Mandela’s “It always seems impossible until it is done”.

 

Jacqui Nolan-Neylan is the co-founder of Revvies Energy Strips. She can be contacted at jacqui@revviesenergy.com or via the website www.revviesenergy.com