Kickstarter can give firms an edge negotiating distribution, says maker of TRUEnergy

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Tru, Inc.
Source: Tru, Inc.

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For startup Tru, Inc., a successful Kickstarter campaign is about more than raising funds to launch its TRUEnergy sports shot – it is about proving to retailers and future investors that the product concept is viable and will sell, said CEO and Founder Jack McNamara. 

He explained that gaining the support of hundreds or thousands of backers who are willing to pay for a new product through a Kickstarter campaign gives retailers confidence that if they stock the product it will sell.

Likewise, a successful campaign gives startups peace of mind that if they order 100,000 units of a product that they won’t just sit in a warehouse – but actually will have enough traction to fund future product runs and expansion, McNamara said. This, in turn, will help firms negotiate with future investors as business scales up, he added.

That is why McNamara and his partners began aggressively marketing their Kickstarter campaign​ for TRUEnergy more than a month before the campaign began Nov. 17.

“Some of the best advice we got about launching a Kickstarter campaign is that you don’t just launch and hope for pledges. You have to start weeks before your campaign goes live to secure pledges and talk to friends, family and media to get the word out,”​ so that when the campaign begins it has immediate traction, McNamara said.

So far this strategy appears to be working for Tru, Inc., which had secured more than half of its $20,000 goal as of Dec. 1 with 16 days left to go.

A unique, high-end sports shot

The young company will use the funds to cover the cost of the first run of TRUEnergy – a unique green tea extract-based sports shot infused with vitamins, electrolytes and slightly sweetened with honey.

Unlike many sports and energy drinks already on the market, McNamara claims his shot is made with organic ingredients and has a crisp citrus taste that is enjoyable.

Recent research from Mintel Group​ found the medicinal taste of many energy shots, as well as the perception that shots are less natural than beverages, are major reasons why sales of energy shots are falling. The research group also found consumers increasingly are opting for functional beverages rather than supplements because they like better the idea of gaining nutrients from foods.

This is why McNamara says Tru, Inc. also is marketing the shot as a beverage, rather than supplement.

The beverage is further differentiated from many other energy shots and drinks because it is based on green tea, which McNamara says provides a more sustained releases of energy and won’t make athletes jittery or crash.

He explains that a former professional hockey player, he knows how important it is to be on and altert for the full game, and not overly energetic in the first period and wiped out by the third.

A high end package

TRUEnergy also will stand out from competitors on the shelf because it will be packaged as a high-end sports shot, rather than as an energy shot.

This means distributing it at sports clubs, gyms and spas rather than in convenient stores where leading 5-Hour ENERGY is firmly rooted.

The shot’s unique packaging also will help set the product apart on a crowded shelf.

Rather than use the ubiquitous small cylindrical bottle favored by many shot manufacturers, Tru, Inc. opted for a more rectangular shape with slightly beveled edges, McNamara said.

Funds from the Kickstarter campaign will cover the cost of the steal molds necessary to make the bottles and the plates for the custom shrink sleeve labels.

The labels will be simple, sleek and more like premium perfume labels than the typical energy shot label that is characterized by bright colors and bold fonts, McNamara said. This distinction will further support the concept that the product is high-end, he said.

The drink’s high price point also will deliver this message. McNamara plans to sell TRUEnergy for $4-5 a bottle, which is at least twice as much as 5-Hour Energy sells for in bulk packs on Amazon.

While this is a big price jump, McNamara says it is worth it because TRUEnergy is made with clean ingredients and combines the multivitamin market with sports drinks to help athletes be “reenergized, rehydrated and revitalized.”

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