Start-Up Stories – Unrooted Energy
In this chapter of Start-Up Stories we got the low down on Unrooted, a business who are bringing us 100% natural (and delicious) drinks! Nathan Clemes, the founder of Unrooted, talks about the revolution in the drinks industry, the FMCG market and more…
So, what is Unrooted?
Unrooted is a healthy energy drink made from the legendary African baobab fruit. It is high in fibre and vitamin C, and as such gives you a longer lasting supply of energy that’s even good for your gut!
“It is high in fibre and vitamin C, and as such gives you a longer lasting supply of energy that’s even good for your gut!”
Because of the incredible nutritional properties of the baobab, we don’t need to use any caffeine or added sugar.
Caffeine is in so much of what we drink, there’s a massive market for it. What made you take the non-caffeinated route?
When we set out to create an energy drink that was genuinely healthy and different to what was out there, we noticed that all existing energy drinks had one thing in common – they all were overloaded with caffeine and sugar. Because of this, the energy category has developed a terrible reputation in the minds of consumers for being unhealthy.
We also realised that consumers looking for a drink to give them an energy boost had very few alternatives to drinks packed with caffeine. Therefore we made it our mission to give consumers a genuinely healthy alternative that still delivered the boost they were looking for. That’s when we found the amazing baobab fruit.
There’s a revolution going on in drinks at the minute, bringing lots of healthy alternatives to consumers. What makes you different from the rest?
It’s such an exciting time in soft drinks at the moment, with so much attention from both the trade and consumers on healthy drinks.
“Two of the major trends right now are low/no sugar and functional drinks, and Unrooted is unique in that is ticks both of these boxes and doesn’t need any caffeine to do so!”
At the same time, baobab fruit is a known prebiotic which means its great for your gut health – which is another exciting, growing area in healthy food & drinks.
How did you come across baobab? Why did you make it the star of your drinks?
I first came across the baobab trees when I lived in South Africa years ago as a child, they are truly awe-inspiring and still remember them from back then! It was only when I set out to create Unrooted that I discovered the fruit however. We decided to make them the focus of Unrooted because they pack a real punch! Baobab is high in fibre, vitamin C, and antioxidants, it’s also a prebiotic which means its great for your gut health. There are very few superfruits that can compare to baobab… it was all we needed really!
Did you have any experience within the FMCG market beforehand?
I actually grew up with the Coca-Cola system – my father worked in marketing for Coke for over 20 years – so from an early age I’ve always had an interest in soft drinks. Professionally, however, before I started Unrooted I spent 5 years in investment banking, so it has been quite a change moving from there to the start-up world!
“I’m lucky to have such an experienced team around me who have done it before and spent time in both the global FMCG companies as well as a number of successful start-ups, so as a team we’re definitely well equipped for the journey.”
What’s been your biggest challenge bringing a new product to the market? How did you overcome it?
So far I think our biggest challenge has been convincing people that energy drinks can actually be healthy! Very early on we saw a lot of resistance just because we called ourselves an “energy drink” – it can put some people off. However, once they hear our story people tend to be really excited about Unrooted as a new product!
Your drinks are 100% natural, is shelf life a big issue for you?
Being 100% natural was always a priority for us! Unrooted is pasteurised to remove any harmful bacteria that can make our drinks go off over time, so because of this we have a shelf life of up to 12 months.
We also did lots of work and testing to make sure pasteurisation didn’t kill or remove any of the beneficial nutrients you get from baobab as well – especially the prebiotic soluble fibre. And thankfully the tests all came back positive – no issues there!
If you could give one piece of advice to fellow start-up founders, what would it be?
Build the right team around you from the early days – people who have the same vision, commitment and determination as you. There’s lots of ups and downs and only as a team do you get through it all!
Where can we find your amazing drinks?
We’re currently listed in Selfridges, Planet Organic, as well as a number of other healthy supermarkets, cafes and gyms. You can find our full stockist list online at unrootedenergy.com or on our Instagram account @unrootedenergy.
What can we expect from Unrooted this year?
We’re aiming to spread the good word of baobab and show consumers there’s a much healthier way to give yourself energy these days! Keep an eye out for us in store!
Unrooted are set for a massive year, and we’re sure they’ll absolutely smash it! Check out their website here.