The idea for the Verb Caffeinated Energy Bar came to Matt Czarnecki, Bennett Byerley and André Monteiro after Czarnecki dropped $6 and spent 25 minutes at a café to buy a coffee and a granola bar that left him jittery, unsatisfied and wondering why there wasn’t a healthier, more convenient way to fuel-up.
After researching energy drinks and sampling other bars that fell flat, the trio created an energy bar in their dorm room that combined 100 mg of caffeine from organic green tea, oats, cocoa flavor and other simple ingredients. It was a near immediate success as friends and other students at Yale clamored for more.
A whirlwind of all-night cooking sessions at a nearby bakery and a stint as Summer@Hilghland Accelerator helped the young brand scale, gain more consumers and catch the eye of several venture capitalists, including Global Founders Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital and Vast Ventures, along with others who invested just under $1 million the trio and Verb Energy, Inc.
With the money, the three friends and business partners plan to build up their business by fine-turning a new route to purchase via text message, create a new brand identity and launch three new products, Byerley told FoodNavigator-USA.
A new path to purchase via text
The idea to build a text-to-purchase platform stemmed from the founders’ desire to offer consumers not only a product that was “radically convenient” but also a delivery mechanism that was as convenient as possible, Byerley said.
“We brainstormed for a long time about how can we get people the most convenient experience possible, and we saw that was just from text because it takes two seconds, you know how to do it with your friends, it is really simple, you don’t have to plug in your card info ever again and you simply say, ‘Hey, we need a box of Verb Bars as soon as possible,’ and we send it to you,” he explained.
He added that the platform is an “authentic” extension of how the brand started in that when the co-founders first sold the bars to classmates they relied on text messages to track orders.
Consumers are automatically enrolled in the text-to-purchase program, which Monteiro created, after they buy their first box of Verb Bars online and their credit card information is stored. This helps address some security concerns around the method because consumers do not need to re-enter their credit card information via text, and adds to the convenience factor, as Byerley noted.
It also creates consumer engagement opportunities for the brand since the co-founders are “on call all the time” to respond “instantaneously” to text orders, Byerley said. He added that it is important that the founders respond to each text, rather than using automated responses, because “customers really don’t like talking to chat bots and there is nothing that compares to having an authentic and real human you are purchasing from.”
He added the experience gives consumers “a really nice vibe,” and makes them feel like they have a friend at Verb.
"We truly want to maintain personalized relationships with our customers while we can, not only for the human touch, but also to learn from them. From texting our customers for just a month we've learned so much about consumption patterns, fulfillment issues, and they've even caught bugs in our site for us,” agreed Czarnecki, who is the company’s CEO.
Looking forward, he added in an email statement, “Of course, as we think about becoming a bigger business and scaling, we'll find ways to automate the processes that do not require human intervention (like a simple reorder) while always maintaining the promise to stay human and personal when it matters. If Chewy wrote handwritten notes to all of its customers before its acquisition, we can write texts to ours for a long time to come.”
New branding and products
As the company expands it also wants to present consumers with new branding that not only will stand out on shelf when it launches, but is “absolutely beautiful and gorgeous and connects with our consumers so it is something they are actually proud to consume and show off,” Byerley said.
“We didn’t make this product to only be consumed by models or elite athletes, we actually made this product to be consumed by your everyday folks who are going about their everyday things,” and so it is important that the packaging and messaging are approachable, he added.
Along with the new brand, the company plans to launch new products to give consumers even more options and convenience, Byerley said.
While these three big goals are enough to keep any company busy for a while, Byerley added in the company year the company also will focus on positioning the three founders “as the face of good human energy,” and expanding the brand’s sales online while maintaining “authentic and genuine consumer interactions.”