Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus
Energy strip startup on a mission to dissolve 'exhaustion epidemic'
Husband and wife team John and Jacqui Nolan-Neylan launched Revvies in Sydney in 2015 after noting a personal and wide-spread desire for an instant energy supplement, without additives.
The two grew up in Australia but met while living and working in the UK - John as a commercial director for a health and beauty manufacturer and Jacqui working to create business growth strategies.
The idea for their own business initially stemmed from John's desire for a fast-acting pick-me-up.
"We were both avid coffee drinkers, like many people, we drank it every day," John explains. "But with our busy morning schedules I would often find I would forget to have a coffee in time for my lunch workout.
"I kept thinking it would be so useful to have something that's easy to carry with me that I could quickly consume just before a workout to get that caffeine boost - and not something that's full of sugar and other additives.
"I was speaking to a diabetic friend of mine who told me about Glucogel, which you can rub into your cheeks to instantly raise your blood glucose levels. I started to wonder if the same could be done with caffeine."
After researching, John found the US Military used a caffeine gum which worked in that way. However, on hearing the costs involved in R&D for a dissolving caffeine 'gum', he had to 'park' the idea.
It was after they had their first child and they moved back to Australia, with a substantial pot of savings, that they started considering the venture again.
Despite their savings, the couple eventually found they would need to sell their house if they were to get the business up and running, so they did.
"It was a scary decision - definitely a gamble - but it paid off," said John.
They initially created the strips, providing 40mg caffeine each - around half a cup of coffee - before growing the range to include a a 100mg high strength SKU. The Informed Sport Certified strips work to provide an instant energy boost without any of the stomach issues often associated with coffee.
As the first product available in New Zealand to be Informed Sport Certified, and the second product in Australia, they had an immediate marketing
edge which gained them interest from everyday active consumers and elite athletes alike.
"We didn't need to tell people the benefits of caffeine for sports performance - that's well established. It was the format that was new and it was the ability to provide an instant energy boost without creating possible stomach issues that we needed to explain.
"While doing our research we found that one in five people avoid caffeinated drinks because they gave them stomach upset so we knew this was a huge market."
Now as a family of four, with a five and a ten-year-old daughter and son, the duo are working to take their brand worldwide, after expanding into the UK in 2020 and finding it has already become their biggest market.
Next they plan to take the product to Germany, and from there they can expand throughout Europe. The business grew by just over 100% online in 2020 and they expect it to do the same again this year.
The entrepreneurs say their research shows the pandemic, mixed with the January blues, has created an 'exhaustion epidemic' which suggests a huge opportunity for their offering.
According to a Revvies survey of over 2,000 respondents, 37% of Brits say that their energy levels are the lowest they have ever been as they enter the new year.
"It's really difficult for people, especially those in cold countries working from home every day, to get the energy to go outside for exercise - but that is pretty much one of the only reasons people are allowed out during the lockdown. Our product provides a solution to this widespread issue across Europe."