The brand, called Happy Being, is the work of two recent Williams College grads, Dutch Buckley and Josemaria Silvestrini. The pair said they became interested in a health promoting beverage when sharing each other experiences with health challenges faced by various family members. Was there a product they would recommend their family members use that would improve their overall health on day-to-day basis?
Seasoned entrepreneur part of founding team
The pair teamed with another co-founder, Chris Conway, a seasoned health products entrepreneur. One of his previous startups is called Everyday Throat Spray, an immune support product that combines various herbs with colloidal silver. Conway also operates a personalized nutrition service called Solutions 4 Health and is a former owner of standalone vitamin store.
“We analyzed the marketplace and felt there really wasn’t a lot out there what we would consider to be a true health promoting functional beverage,” Conway said.
Buckley said his and Silvestrini’s conversations with Conway opened their eyes to how much control individuals’ have over their own health.
“We learned from talking with Chris about the role that epigenetics play,” Buckley said. “We wanted to create products that had not just a high perceived value but a high actual value.”
High bioavailability guided ingredient choices
One of the key ingredients in the product, which is being sold as a dietary supplement, is a 50 mg dose of pterostilbene. Conway said the research on this polyphenol, found in blueberries and other botanicals, was persuasive. The ingredient is similar to resveratrol in its anti oxidant and healthy aging effects, but its slightly different chemical structure imparts a greater bioavailability, Conway said.
“In the research we have access to pterostilbene came up over and over,” Conway said.
One recent issue with the ingredient has been an assertion that it raised LDL cholesterol levels in some subjects. Conway said the brand took that seriously and had its advisers had looked into the question.
“We had our medical team take a look at that research very aggressively and they determined that that study was not something to really to be concerned about,” he said.
In keeping with a theme of maximum bioavailability, the company chose a turmeric ingredient devoid of curcuminoids, which are usually though to be the powerhouse constituents of this popular botanical. The ingredient, branded as Turmacin, is manufactured by Indian ingredient developer Natural Remedies. It is a water soluble ingredient rich in the tumerosaccharides of the turmeric plant, which the developer claims have powerful health properties of their own. Natural Remedies markets the ingredient for joint support, but in the Happy Being formulation it is included for over inflammation control.
Silvestrini said the choice came down to one that would easily work in a beverage application. There are turmeric beverages on the market, but many suffer from the insoluble turmeric particles settling out of the solution. The traditional benefits of turmeric as part of a curry-based diet came from ingesting high amounts of the botanical on a daily basis and in the context of a fat-containing meal, so the poor unit absorption of the turmeric was less of an issue. Neither a large dose or a big slug of fat fits into a functional beverage value proposition.
“The company had a lot of data on its ingredient in terms of its reduction of inflammatory makers. We really wanted to go with an option with a high bioavailability,” Silvestrini said.
The products also include a green tea extract supplying 35 mg of EGCG per serving. Rounding out the ingredients list is a 1 gram dose of elderberry fruit powder for immune support.
The formulation rests on a base of organic white tea flavored in three options: peach rose, blueberry raspberry and lemongrass min. The product is positioned as a low calorie beverage at 25 calories per bottle, sweetened with a blend of cane sugar and monk fruit extract.
Coming up against cost issue
The co-founders faced the same conundrum many product developers using branded ingredients do: How much good stuff can you include and still keep costs under control? At the moment the product is in the premium price category at about $5 per bottle which is in line with a few other functional beverage competitors that pack in the functional ingredients. But the company’s executives hope that as distribution scales up (the company is only a few weeks beyond its formal launch) those costs can come down with economies of scale. And in any case, Silvestrini said, the product is competing in a marketplace where many consumers think nothing of dropping $5 on a drink at a Starbucks.