I hope you’re all having a good start to the weekend. Today I’m here to share a another Behind the Biz interview with you. I normally share these interviews on a Monday morning but sometimes we all need a little weekend inspiration.
In today’s interview we’re exploring the world of energy drinks. The brand in question have created an all-natural and low in sugar drink. It contains six ingredients to offer natural energy hit – green coffee, guarana, beet sugar, Himalayan rock salt, green tea and lemon juice.
Today I’m chatting with Huib van Bockel, the founder of TENZING Natural Energy.
Please tell us about your business.
TENZING Natural Energy is a 100% natural, low sugar energising drink. A welcome alternative in a category dominated by high sugar and artificially laden drinks. It features six key carefully selected natural ingredients, 58 calories per can and nothing artificial.
Where did the inspiration for TENZING come from?
After being head of marketing for Red Bull UK and Europe for 8 years I decided to launch a natural, low calorie alternative. When searching for the perfect natural recipe I happened across the uplifting brew of the Himalayan Sherpa’s. This inspired both the recipe and brand name, chosen in honour of the late Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, one of the first two men to reach the summit of Mt Everest.
How did you decide upon the name of your business?
I was inspired by the Sherpa recipe and the Tenzing Norgay is of course the most famous Sherpa of them all. After that name came to me, I got in touch with his sons and my family ended up meeting the Tenzing family. We are working on the project together now. One of the things we do together is build sustainable bins on route to Mt Everest. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth but unfortunately also affected by litter. Together we hope to make that a thing of the past.
What did you do before starting TENZING?
Before Red Bull I was at MTV, and I also launched my very own fashion company, starting at the bottom: with socks. We even made it onto the main catwalk show of the Amsterdam Fashion Week.
Did you always plan to set up your own business?
To be honest I was never too keen on bosses telling me what to do, then the only option you have is to launch your own. But I would not call myself a serial entrepreneur, I believe you have to find the right idea that you absolutely believe in and then go at it with everything you have. For me that was launching a natural, low sugar energising drink. For the simple reason that it is a big market, people worry about the huge quantities of sugar and artificial ingredients and I know the market really well. So it ticked all boxes: I can make an actual difference in a market I am knowledgeable about.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Keeping up with the growth. TENZING has been in extreme rapid growth since launch 1.5 years ago. In June alone we landed an extra 1500 stores! Because we are a small team and because we source all our ingredients from nature to the highest possible standards this can be tough sometimes. But we have always been able to deliver!
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
What is most exciting about that is the amazing team feeling. We are 9 highly energised and passionate people. We feel like Astrix and Obelix, taking on the Romans. For instance we are front of store in Tesco, all the brands around us are these 300 million + turnover conglomerates with humongous teams. The feeling of taking on the giants with a passionate team is just amazing.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
It plays an important role, but not the most important I would say. For us it all about being out and about, meeting new clients, making sure we look good in store and doing a lot of sampling. That is where most of our focus lies. Because energy drinks has become synonymous with “unhealthy”, our main challenge is to convince people that it is actually possible to have a drink that gives you an uplift but is not filled to the rim with sugar or synthetics. We have a very refreshing and light taste, because we took out most the sugar and did not replace that with anything. Once people taste they love it.
But we are on social media as well. Instragram is our favourite social channel and personally I use LinkedIn a lot, which I think can be effective.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Make sure you validate your concept. Don’t take ages doing that, but make sure you do. Main reason why business don’t make it is simply because there is no need for it, or there is a need but your concept does not convey that effectively. Second is find something that you are are truly passionate about, because it will be tough and then you have to have a clear purpose. For me this was not only taking all our ingredients from nature and getting people to have access to better energy, but also giving back to nature. We invest 5% of our profits into environmental projects.
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
This year we will finalise our very first funding round. We have been bootstrapped till now, on the back on that investment we will increase the team and our marketing program. And key will be to further build distribution we are in talks with all major players at the moment in the UK, so we hope we will be able to further increase access to natural, low sugar energy. Now who does not want that?
I want to say a huge thank you to Huib for getting involved with Behind the Biz. I loved hearing about his business journey and I hope you all did too. Huib found a gap in the market and created a fantastic product (my review is coming next week) to fill it. I think having an all-natural energy drink option on the market is very important. I look forward to seeing TENZING grow throughout the year ahead.
Huib’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is very useful. I agree that it’s essential to first find something you’re passionate about and then you’ll find that your focus, purpose and dedication will come naturally.
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