Ang and fellow founder Teoh Ming Hao, both former executives of South East Asia’s ride-hailing giant Grab, commercialised the pills claiming to strengthen the liver in September 2021. The brand managed to enter 10 markets, including Singapore, Malaysia and Hongkong, enjoying a 20% month-on-month growth with a customer retention rate of 50%.
Riding on this success, the firm plans to add five more SKUs, invest more in research and development (R&D) efforts and scale up in bigger markets over the next six months as the world eases COVID-19 restrictions.
According to Ang, the global hangover remedy market could reach US$4.67bn in 2028 – from US$2bn in 2022 – with a CAGR of about 15%. However, unlike Japan and Korea, many markets are still in the early stages of awareness of these remedies.
“We think the entire vertical itself is underserved in this part of the world. If you look at Korea and Japan, you can easily get over-the-counter (OTC) hangover remedies. But it’s non-existent outside those countries. We have tested 50 products worldwide and derived our dihydromyricetin (DHM) formula. The DHM content (in our pills) comprises half the entire dose or about 300mg per capsule. There are a lot of papers on this ingredient. With that in mind, we thought it made a lot of sense to double down on this particular product. I think people benefited from it. They’re constantly coming back, and we’re really happy with the product,” said Ang.
Bounceback aims to tackle the effects of acetaldehyde in alcohol that increases stress hormone levels and heart rates, besides the possible liver scarring and damage associated with prolonged consumption. Hence, the double-dose DHM provided by Bounceback could increase liver protection and hasten alcohol metabolism.
Each capsule contains 22 ingredients consisting of antioxidants and herbal extracts chiefly imported from Japan, Korea and China. A month’s supply of 40 capsules retails online for SG$49.90 (US$35.80). The brand targets tech-savvy individuals aged between 25 and 45.
“During our time at Grab from 2017 to 2020, we started the original five-person division of GrabPay. We worked with banks, payment partners and brokering, which involved a lot of drinking. We started taking products because after a heavy night out, and you still have to come back to the office in the morning, it’s not as easy, right? So we started to take some supplements that can help us have more productivity and function. We started this company with a view that the market potential for this particular product is big. One might think it was a huge jump from Grab to nutraceuticals, but it’s not. It’s just a difference in the product. In both instances, we built the product from scratch and had to speak to regulators,” said Ang.
Elaborating on the science behind the remedy, the firm said DHM has anti-alcoholic effects on humans at the molecular and cellular level to counteract alcohol intoxication. The effects are supported by botanicals such as prickly pear, Korean Panax ginseng, ginger root, milk thistle, and substances like chromium and magnesium.
For instance, inflammation markers known as the C-reactive protein are strongly associated with the severity of hangovers. The levels of this protein were 40% higher in subjects who did not consume prickly pear supplementation.
The Korean Panax ginseng also has a moderate effect on reducing hangover symptoms by inhibiting the production of inflammatory mediators. The milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has active compounds named silymarin that feature liver-protection properties.
Bounceback pills are protected in blister packs for tamper resistance and coated with heat seal lacquer and primer to maintain the bioavailability of the ingredients.
In conclusion, the team hopes to secure another round of funding in its upcoming Pre-Series A to develop in-house R&D capabilities, introduce liver care products for the mass audience and scale in bigger markets like New York by 2023.
“For supplements, health and wellness in this part of the world, there are no Singapore brands that have gone global within a really quick time frame. We planted the Singapore flag globally now that we’re in 10 markets. There are still a lot of problem statements that we want to tackle and build more products for the consumers. I think the next five years are going to be about more products, markets and interesting avenues,” said Ang.