The making of... PREPD
Welcome to The making of… blog series. Can you firstly introduce yourself, and then give us a brief background as to how you ended up where you are now.
Hi, my name is Andrew Perry and I'm lucky enough to be the CEO at PREPD Hydration.
I grew up loving sport, working in my parents business and at the age of 21 bought my first business, the perfect blend of Sport and Business - A group Personal Training Studio. Fast forward a few decades and I was introduced to the PREPD brand when the product was still very much in the R&D stage. I was training for the New York Marathon and thought I’d give PREPD a test run. I loved the product and the science behind it, so commenced following the business from there.
Our founders, Prof. Graeme Young, Professor Henry Binder, B.S. Ramakrishna and Dr Ian Brown, developed the science behind our product. On top of this we have 353 investors who own a stake in the PREPD Hydration business. Generally speaking, these investors have been passionate customers who have become raving fans and invested in our product, science and strategy.
Thanks for the explanation. So, how did the founders, Graeme, Henry, B.S. and Ian come up with the idea?
PREPD’s history is rooted in over 20 years of collaborative medical research between Flinders and Yale Universities.
Our research team’s original goal was to create a better oral rehydration solution (ORS) to treat severe dehydration in developing countries where lives were lost through severe dehydration from diseases like cholera and rotavirus.
Their efforts focused on enhancing total water absorption in the body by tapping into the largely unused potential in the large intestine to absorb up to 5L of fluid per day.
Using a unique resistant starch (RS), our research team developed a patented RS-ORS, which was able to enhance hydration and improve health outcomes by 39% compared with the World Health Organisations’ recommended ORS.
That’s such a great ‘Why’ behind the brand. Research? What research did they do to arrive at what you've got now? How did they test the product-market fit?
After the success with the WHO, we developed a joint venture focussed on innovation between Flinders University and the Adelaide Football Club, the technology’s application to enhance elite athlete hydration and performance was identified.
After a 2014 clinical trial with the Adelaide Crows, we found the newly adapted two-step PREPD hydration system was providing outstanding results to the elite players:
- Improved starting hydration
- Enhanced fluid absorption during exertion
- Enhanced rehydration in recovery when compared with drinking leading sports drinks only.
- During the trial period athletes drinking PREPD lost a remarkable 85% less body weight overall.
- Results from the trial have now been published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
First runs? What were the first iterations of PREPD like?
That's a great question - Resistant Starch in its pure form is not a great tasting product. We ran 100's of taste tests with Uni students, gym goers and the general public before our official launch in November 2018. The PREPD product range is a thicker consistency to the average sports drink making it more like a fruit smoothie or thick shake texture.
With 353 investors, four professors and two Universities involved, there's got to be an interesting story behind the funding. Can you tell us a little about how everything was initially funded?
Initially we received a grant from the South Australian Government based on our innovation and our desire to open up a new blue ocean in the sports hydration category. This was followed by a $450k Seed Investment raise in mid-2017.
What about the branding? Can you tell us about the process and how you arrived at where you are today?
The PREPD brand went through a couple of iterations prior to landing on what we have today. We were looking for something clean and crisp, that was easily identifiable and would stand the test of time.
It definitely looks different from other industry players. How are you building brand awareness?
One thing we stand for is authenticity and this pillar has been a really strong focus for us since day one. Whilst we have an amazing stable of ambassadors, we've never worked with an ambassador who isn't genuinely in love with PREPD products and has a sound understanding of the science that makes them a game changer. Because they’re fans and use the range on a regular basis, our ambassadors have been able to authentically articulate why they love PREPD and the benefits they get from them. On top of this, we have an amazing and very supportive fan base who regularly share and post about our products.
What would you say the biggest challenge or challenges PREPD will face moving forward?
The biggest challenge we have is getting our US launch right. We have done all our due diligence, but no doubt there’ll be a hurdle that pops up. With growth comes more employees and no doubt some other growing pains, but that is also a normal scenario for any startup. This said, we’re very lucky and fortunate to be in the position we are in.
Excellent stuff. Ok, our final question. Knowing what you do, what advice would you give an entrepreneur who is embarking on their own startup journey?
There are no shortcuts, or quick wins and it's a journey. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. If you have the capital at the start and can venture into an international market as an e-commerce business, prior to expanding in your local market, that would be advantageous.
Finally, as hard as it is, resist the temptation to employ additional staff so you can work less, have balance etc. You need a core group of 3 - 5 staff to just get in, roll their sleeves up and be all in with your vision for the business.