Established in 2014, BioHacks launched its sachet supplement Hang & Over in 2016 after around six months of development. Made from a blend of ginseng, prickly pear, electrolytes, amino acids and a host of vitamins and minerals, the 9g sachet can be mixed into water, milk or chocolate drinks and carries three health claims for vitamin B12, choline and zinc.
Since last year, the product is stocked in Germany's largest drugstore chain DM Drogerie Markt and also across some of the country's biggest supermarkets Edeka, Real and Hit and BioHacks now wants to find investors for European expansion.
Food hacks – easy to handle, single-use products
In the coming weeks, BioHacks will launch its latest supplement sachet Sleep & Well, made using melatonin as the primary active ingredient, and is also finalising development of its meal replacement sachet One & Meal and a product for brain focus.
Jonathan Sehlinger, founder of BioHacks, said in the next five years, the company hoped to be the biggest platform of biohacking products and experts.
“What we're trying to do is create new products, we call it 'food hacks', that are easy to handle, single-use products for the daily routine; daily problems like hangovers or if you're stressed and have no time for good food,” Sehlinger told NutraIngredients. “...We don't want to substitute good food and nourishment but sometimes if you have the problem, that's how we want to position it. It's not a daily product, it's a product for some special use and that's how we get credibility for the product.”
The whole concept behind BioHacks, he said, is born from an interest and engagement in 'biohacking' – the idea of of optimising performance though engineered systems, often IT, or do-it-yourself biology.
“It's something to self-optimisation; a community movement that's quite scientific (…) but there are also some back-to-the-roots people, back to nature and health, who do optimisation with healthy products and food. It's quite an interesting movement and therefore, I was thinking about new food trends and product ideas.”
It was after a visit to South America, he said, where anti-hangover products are quite common and popular, that he started to consider what natural ingredients and format could work.
Sehlinger said the decision to use sachets, for example, targets the need for “convenient supplements for special, daily uses”.
“It looks like a skincare mask. Most people know this kind of product for skin. The thing is, you can take it wherever you want, it looks good and you don't have to buy 30 capsules in one product which most people only use it for three or four days and then throw away or don't use anymore.”
Bigger market anti-hangover potential?
Sehlinger said South Korea spends around €150m a year on anti-hangover products, making it the biggest market in the world and with plenty of keen drinkers in Germany and other parts of Europe, the company definitely sees potential for its Hang & Over sachets.
But, he said whilst the market is growing, the hangover market isn't truly developed yet with just a handful of small startups. “In Germany, we are one of the biggest hangover brands and it means there is still such a big market and we're not scared about competitors because they help the market to grow and get attention for the topic.”
The company's listings in supermarkets will also help build brand recognition, he said. “I think supermarkets could become more interesting than the drugstores because, for example, in Edeka we get the chance to sell the product close to the alcohol. We sell the sachets on some clips that hang directly onto the alcohol shelves. So, it's a good result in Edeka right now.”
Asked who the target consumer is for Hang & Over, Sehlinger said primarily younger people short on time or students who are short on both time and money – two sachets retail for under €6.“The typical buyer of the product is someone who wants to have some after work fun and wants to be in good shape the next morning. We have, for example, some slogans like: 'last at the bar, first in the office'.”
However, despite the product's name he said the company avoids 'anti-hangover' references on pack or in its marketing because another company in Germany is doing this and facing legal difficulties. The difficulty, he said, lies in whether a hangover is considered an 'illness' or not because if it is there are different regulations to adhere to. For now, that's why the company is positioning itself as a lifestyle product, he said.