Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Doctor creates motivational shake to replace empty-calorie coffees

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Dare motivational shake pack shot
Dare motivational shake pack shot

Related tags Protein plant based botanicals

An emergency medicine doctor has founded his own brand selling a nutritionally boosted plant-based ‘motivational’ protein shake offering a replacement for "empty-calorie" coffees and additive-filled snacks.

Five month young UK-based startup ‘Dare’ offers a protein powder made from a blend of plant proteins with added botanicals and a vitamin blend in order to create a shake filled with vitamins and nutrients.

It was around four years ago that Dr Ben Hamida began experimenting with his own protein shake creations as he desperately tried to find a quick and healthy meal solution while doing shift work as an emergency medicine doctor for the NHS.

“I have a very busy job and there’s never a time to sit down and have a meal, regardless of how organised you are," ​he explains.

“I found myself just eating snacks and crisps which I didn’t like eating so I decided to try ordering some different protein powders and add in other nuts, seeds and botanicals that I knew would keep me going and offer me some added nutritional benefits.”

Not long after Ben started doing this, he developed a sensitivity to dairy which led him to discover the emerging world of plant-based protein powders.

“The plant-based market was not as established, even just going back a couple of years, the flavours and textures were challenging and they didn’t mix well and it was this challenge that led me to create the motivational shake.”

By mixing peanut, soy, flaxseed, oat, pumpkin seed, hemp and sunflower protein powders, and adding maca root powder, brown rice hulls and natural flavourings such as cocoa, bee pollen and cinnamon, Ben says he has managed to create a plant-based protein with superior taste and mixability, without the need for artificial additives.

The medical professional sees the cocoa and peanut butter flavoured powder as a great alternative to a cappuccino or as a nutritionally rich cooking or baking ingredient.

“People will have a coffee – which can be 200 to 250 calories – in the morning, and maybe even have another one or two throughout the day all for the benefit of feeling a little more alert.

“My motivational shake can make them equally feel alert and energised with far more added health benefits.”

Once Ben had perfected his formula he found himself making more and more, on the request of colleagues, friends and family.

“I started finding I was ordering ingredients by the kilo and spending my weekends making tonnes of the stuff.”

It was around this time that he met Melissa, now his wife, in 2015, who happened to have a strong interest in branding and marketing and had a strong vision for his creation.

“So we decided to make a brand together that was about nutrition but that had a higher arching message about motivation and helping people reach their full potential and that's where the idea for the 'motivational shake' came from.”

On realising they could no longer meet demand from their kitchen counter, Ben undertook the biggest challenge he’s faced so far – finding a factory that would manufacture his product to his healthy specifications.

Ben, now a father to two babies, travelled the UK in between hospital shifts to find a factory that would be able to produce his product without making changes to the formula that would hinder its health attributes.

“It took 12-18 months to get into a factory. I would say it’s the hardest aspect of being a startup company – people are conscious about going into business with a brand that has no proven history as they don’t know whether they can trust you to deliver the volumes, or the quality, you promised.”

The shake is currently only available online via the Dare website​ ​but Ben says they are now ready to expand the range and increase sales.

 “So far our sales are very evenly split between males and females so we have obviously branded the product in a neutral way which is good. And we’ve had loads of great reviews sent in from athletes as well as health conscious consumers, so we hope to use these testimonials to market the company further.”

Sports Nutrition Summit USA

Influencers, the microbiome, protein, formulation challenges and opportunities, and female athletic consumers are just some of the topics that will take center stage at the NutraIngredients-USA Sports Nutrition Summit​ in San Diego, Feb 3-5, 2020. 

For more information and to register, please click HERE​.

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