Called PepPod, the Denver, CO based brand markets an eponymous product formulated as effervescent tablets. The product has 71 mg of caffeine from green tea as well as a host of vitamins and minerals. The company’s website mentions more than 70 vitamins and minerals whereas some of its marketing collateral talks of “more than a hundred.”
Buried within the product, so to speak, is a trace mineral blend that is sourced from a mine in Utah. It is a humic source, mined from a vein of ancient, compressed peat that company CEO Jennifer Pearce says provides a plethora of trace minerals in a pure and more bioavailable form than is available from most suppliers.
Keeping the good, shedding the bad
Pearce said it was her addition to the original company’s business plan that finally made the product take off. It was the brainchild of two Boulder, CO partners who started the company in about 2012. In what is not an unusual story, the pair had a vision but not much in the way business-building chops, and after a while were no longer getting along. Pearce, who has a background in business development in the high tech world backed by an advanced applied math degree from the University of Colorado, was brought in to right the ship.
“My expertise is coming into companies and figuring out what’s working and what isn’t,” Pearce told NutraIngredients-USA.
“It was sort of a classic founders story, to be blunt. I thought this was a great product, but everything else about the company needed to be changed in order for it to be successful,” she said.
Energy from nutrients, not sugar
The product has gone through several formula tweaks in its lifetime, Pearce said. The company has now settled on a product that gives 100% or more of a host of B vitamins, caffeine from organic green tea, electrolytes like
Pearce said that he energy space is crowded, and having a product that provides natural energy without high dosages of caffeine and loads of sugar is a differentiator.
“A lot of these are chock full of sugar, with a lot of caffeine. We are trying to give you energy out of nutrients. Your body already knows what it needs to do to produce energy. You just have to give it the right nutrients in the right forms,” Pearce said.
“What we are really trying to do is to modify the energy drink industry,” she said.
Less competition in effervescents
But while the energy space is crowded, the space for a nutrient rich effervescent table is just about wide open. There are a couple of competitors out there. Nuun, for example, focuses on athletic hydration but has many fewer nutrients.
“And what most people know in this country is Airborne, but they in the sickness and jet lag space,” she said.
Pearce said effervescents are much bigger in Europe and elsewhere, but have yet to strike in it big in the US. Berocca is a big global brand of tablets featuring B vitamins and vitamin C. It is manufactured by Bayer and is popular in a number of countries, but is not sold in the US.
“If you talked to a lot of people around the world, they would have heard of Berocca,” Pearce said. “Not a lot of people over here have experienced effervescents but it is growing all the time.”
Online sales seem to make most sense for now
The brand at the moment is pursuing a mostly online sales strategy, and recently announced it will be offered on Rev Nutrition as well as on Amazon and the company’s own site. Pearce said the company is considering brick and mortar distribution, too, but the rapidly changing retail landscape does give her pause. It can be a complicated and expensive way to market products, and the ground is continually shifting under brands’ feet, she said.
“We have about 150 stores in the Colorado region that carry our product. We are working on some bigger chains to get into their stores, but a lot of retailers have shifted their strategies about what is happening in their stores,” she said.
“Take Whole Foods, for example. When Amazon bought them, they started a wholesale change of how they onboard new products,” Pearce said.
“We are talking mostly to Millennials anyway, and they are shopping a lot online. We feel online is the best place for us to tell our story,” she said.