Health drinks startup provides personalised nutrition to pro-athletes
Exalt was co-founded by married couple Charlie and Dan Wilson-Vaughan in 2020, seeing an opportunity when redundancy hit their careers in digital marketing and finance during the pandemic.
After having put off the dream of working in the health and wellness space and having recognised the health-focused smoothies and juices they made at home weren’t available in the mass market, Charlie said: “We thought, actually, maybe now's the perfect time to do it.”
Exalt's wide range of smoothies and juices are designed in collaboration with a dietitian to produce a high protein, macro-complete product.
They work with whole food items, utilising ingredients such as cacao for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, mixed berries for vitamin C and immune-boosting properties, and beetroot to provide nitrates - to be converted to nitric oxide improving cardiorespiratory endurance as well as lowering blood pressure.
The brand has built a range of nine different smoothies all with a minimum of 20g of protein; four fresh juices with collagen, natural caffeine, cbd and chicory root fibre; and a collection of powdered supplements.
The product isn’t cheap, but the founders explain it is cost effective for an active lifestyle. Discussing their breakfast smoothie priced at £5.35, they note this contains 105mg of caffeine, 20g of protein and 214kcal.
“If you were to do the similar thing at Pret, that would cost you 11 pounds in terms of the macros,” Dan states.
The unique selling point Exalt has carved for itself lies within their technological advancement. They say working with high pressure processing (HPP) meant they were the first company to create a cold-pressed protein smoothie with a 15-day shelf life, without the addition of preservatives.
“We're the first brand to pioneer a ready-to-drink protein smoothie come meal replacement that uses HPP,” said Charlie.
It is their uniqueness in HPP at scale that has instigated the quick success of Exalt. With a prosperous first few years of organic growth and collaborations with Nike, Lululemon and Peloton, the company have now been named the official sports nutrition drink supplier for UK Premier league football team Tottenham Hotspur, involving a four year contract.
Collaborating with Emma Tester, the head of nutrition at Tottenham Hotspur, the Exalt team has created formulations for each player based on their dietary needs and supplement regimens.
Tester said: “At Tottenham Hotspur we aspire to provide our players with best-in-class performance nutrition. The Exalt product range is top quality and the personalised bespoke protein smoothies, juices and shots complement our wider nutritional strategy."
Exalt now cater for 26 professional athletes in the first team, with 140 variations that covers four drinks a day per player. In order to personalise their beverages, they first collect blood samples and administer surveys then they reformulate and offer new drink formulations every two weeks.
The contract was a competitive one, Dan explains: “Our work with Spurs is testament to the hard work, dedication, and expertise of the Exalt team that we’re able to provide Tottenham Hotspur’s players with truly personalised bespoke sports nutrition drinks to support their high intensity training and recovery throughout the season and beyond.
“We’re so proud to be partnered with such a renowned football club, adding to our roster of global brands we’ve recently collaborated with including Nike, Peloton and Lululemon.”
The difference in their partnership is, as founder Charlie recounts, that most clubs either make things in house or they buy off the shelf generic products for all the players. “This is a really interesting partnership as it demonstrates our technological ability, as well as being able to deliver something really high quality.”
Fran Jones, partnerships director for Tottenham Hotspur adds: “Exalt are a young, smart, British business with sustainability at its heart – something we are extremely passionate about as a club. This agreement represents an exciting opportunity for us to provide our nutritionists with best-in-class products to support our players’ performance and recovery.”
The success of the Tottenham Hotspurs collaboration has led to plans to expand upon the products to create a ‘pro’ range available to the public and other sports teams.
The pro range will be based off the products designed with Spurs, but will have reduced customisation for ease of distribution.
Charlie suggests that the range will first be available B2C, but that they’ve already been approached by a few other supporting clubs.
The current range includes fresh, cold-pressed protein smoothies with an extended shelf-life of 15 days without the use of preservatives or pasteurisation to ensure maximum nutrient-provision.
Each bottle delivers a minimum of 20g vegan protein or organic whey protein.
Exalt’s functional cold-pressed juices are supercharged with collagen, chicory root, caffeine, or 15mg CBD. Again, the use of pressure extends shelf-life up to 40 days.
The range also includes vegan and whey protein powder available in Madagascan vanilla and organic cacao flavour, naturally sweetened with ground dates, apples and coconut nectar.