Jack Boreham, 25, and Euan O’Reilly, 24, realised the huge opportunity of the esports market while studying computer science and economics at Leeds University.
“Being a computer scientist, I spent a crazy amount of time in the computer lab and there were always gamers having LAN (local area network) parties,”
These are parties where students use the university's intranet to host gaming competitions, explains Boreham.
“I had been into gaming from a young age so I enjoyed getting involved in the games. But something I didn't get into, like many other keen gamers did, was using energy drinks at all times of the day.
"To drink that much caffeine seemed intense to me but it was clear there was a real demand for convenient products that can help you focus.”
When they came to graduating last year, at a time when graduates were struggling to find jobs, the two friends started discussing possible business venture ideas.
“We realised we were going to need to find a less conventional route into starting a career. We both had a passion for gaming and we were both into football and keeping fit. We had seen the way sports nutrition products had proliferated across the mass market in our lifetimes and we thought, why haven't those products entered the esports arena?
“There are a lot of esports focused brands on the market now but they are mostly caffeine focused energy drinks and shakes. These are all focused towards the younger generation of gamers – the under 20's – with flavours like blue raspberry and sour watermelon.
“But this market is huge, with the majority of players being aged up to 30 and many of those players being just as interested in keep fit and outdoor sports as they are in e-sports. And the market will continue to get more mature and more diverse as awareness and interest in gaming continues to grow. We saw a big opportunity for appealing to the older, more health conscious consumers.”
The duo were lucky to be put in touch with two investors who brought with them experience in new product development, manufacturing, sales and more than 20 years-experience in the nutrition industry.
“It was almost exactly a year ago, when we had just finished our dissertations, that we had a zoom call with them and told them our idea and they were excited to get on board.”
With lockdowns helping all four men concentrate on this venture, they managed to launch their brand Play Beyond Nutrition with their first two products less than six months later, in November 2020.
They created ‘Ult Edge’, which promises to provide enhanced focus, mental energy and reaction times without any caffeine. The supplement contains Zynamite, the mango leaf extract from Nektium which, as well as Cognizin Citicoline, rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, Ashwagandha, ginseng, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, zinc, and vits B5 and B6.
For post-game relaxation and stress management, they created ‘Disconnect’, with Magnesium citrate, lemon balm, chamomile, griffonia seed extract, L-Theanine, and vitamin B6.
In an aim to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd and prove they are for serious health-conscious gamers, the team has focused its energy on hosting tournaments through the League of Legends, one of the biggest online games.
“The teams involved in that game are forward-thinking and they invest in the long-term health of their gamers.
“Players can suffer burn out because it’s such a high pressure and intense sport and these teams are looking to nutrition to help reduce the risk of that.”
Helping to confirm their brand as a trustworthy option, they have also just signed a partnership with Demise – a leading professional esports organisation in the UK.
Play Beyond will provide the organisation with nutrition and wellbeing advice, as well as supplying their nootropic supplements to Demise players.
“Not only is this partnership going to allow us to get direct feedback from professional gamers but it will also cement our brand as the supplement of choice for serious gamers.”