Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Innovating Despite
Market Chaos

Eli Faraggi, creator of BioLift and founder of InnoBev Ltd. an Israeli food-tech company integrating chronobiology and nutrition, posts on the Spotlight today on overcoming challenges to sell an innovative scientific solution. BioLift is a patented botanical beverage that works with your body clock to keep you focused when you need it most.

How do you overcome disillusion when pioneering an innovative CPG product?

We launched BioLift in the United States in March 2020. Fantastic! Worst timing in the last century; worst place. Our plan was to sell to major companies so their employees could benefit from BioLift at work. We had to shift our plan because no one was working in the office anymore, so we began working with medical staff instead. We distributed at a dozen hospitals, giving staff BioLift to cope better with the long shifts of COVID-19. We then sold BioLift at retail in New York City and on Amazon.

Innovation, the way I see it… sometimes you need to burn the ships in the harbor to conquer the island. Everything takes three times more effort and cost than you’d think. Even in ordinary times there are so many setbacks, it would make you run back to your old life if you still had another job — there’s no way to get through it if you turn back. You need to burn your ships.

BioLift’s biohacking abilities

BioLift, as an all-botanical functional beverage, biohacks your body’s tendency to get groggy at certain times of day. Between 1PM–4PM, for example, our bodies travel through a Circadian Rhythm “sleep gate.” To stay awake naturally and overcome this “slump” or “post-lunch dip,” we developed BioLift. It has been clinically proven (in 5 double-blind trials to date) to improve a worker’s performance by around 15%. That’s amazing — enough to notice a difference. Only through these clinical trials did we understand that we had found a mechanism significantly superior to caffeine.

Biolift is powered by a patented combination of less than 10 mg of caffeine per serving, which is about the same as your average cup of decaf coffee. Compare that to Coca cola, with 47 mg or a standard energy drink contains about 150 mg. BioLift also contains:

  • Ginkgo Biloba to increase blood oxygen flow,
  • Elderberry to support immunity,
  • Guarana (low dose) for stimulation, and
  • Carob as a low-glycemic sweetener. (We’re the only beverage in the US sweetened by Carob Extract.)

Most importantly, BioLift does not rely on artificially propping you up with caffeine. That’s BioLift’s competitive edge, that it can help you push through those extra hours with a nice feeling, yet you can still go to sleep and keep your blood pressure low. We need to be in a certain pulse to go to sleep, and we can’t do that if it’s too high due to caffeine.

Challenges – other than timing!

Our biggest challenge was flavor. Why? Because the consumers want science, botanics, function, good value — and “tasty.” Something that we were not, at first. So, we created a formula that’s clean and 100% water soluble to integrate into other applications. We didn’t want anything floating or sinking, as with so many plant-based products. We had to literally search throughout the globe to find the ingredients and the engineering process to be tasty, transparent and—most importantly for us—for everything to be soluble. Also, it now tastes delicious!

Our Motivation

The biggest motivation for us to make this was to improve, in a small way, a lot of people’s lives. Working with medical staff, we found proof that they finished their shifts more easily. Many medical workers said, “Drinking this didn’t ‘change my life,’ but you improved it in a place that was hard for me, in a good way.”

We also got excellent feedback from older age groups who wouldn’t typically be interested in the energy beverage category — for them it is a life changer. It’s an incremental solution, one that motivates you to wake up and continue what you’re doing, maybe a little better.

Each clinical trial discovered something… BioLift has surprised even us. Every time we test, it exceeds our expectations. It works with your body’s chronobiology, not against it.

What exactly is Chronobiology?

Chronobiology is the biology of time. It revolves around every organism — plant, animal, person. Nature works in cycles. It’s very “old school American” to think we can wake up, work in a straight line, and then go to sleep.

For example, pharmacists tell you to take certain medicines in the morning or evening. Why? Because we have different bioavailability throughout the day in our body. If you want to go to play tennis, go around 4:00 p.m. when coordination in your body is the best. If you want a good dinner, eat at 7:00 p.m. when your taste buds are most awake. If you want a good skin on your face, don’t be up at 3:00 a.m., because that’s when your skin cells regenerate. Cool, right?!

How did you get such widespread support for your business?

The reason we have wonderful corporations partnering with us is persistence and a bit of luck. You need to pick up the phone. Stop sending emails, working connections…. it’s not always “who you know.” We tried to get through to the Israeli Airlines tech institute by knowing people. It wasn’t working. So I picked up and called operations and said, “I’m an entrepreneur. I can offer a solution for your pilots.” They said, “Okay. Come in tomorrow, noontime.” When you are pitching a genuine solution to the right people, they will appreciate it, and you’ll get opportunities to share your story.

What’s the expectation vs reality of working in your start-up?

It’s an emotional rollercoaster. You might get a call about something that wasn’t working on a clinical trial, so you’re depressed in the morning. At noon, you get a client saying he wants to take the next step, so you’re elated. You’re totally invested in it. Most people–even family members–don’t understand what you are doing. Most entrepreneurs define themselves in innovation. It’s not only what they do, but who they are.

Most of us think about preparing the financial infrastructure to cope with challenges to come, but you also need a supportive emotional environment. I draw my strength from faith and community. Having colleagues in your ecosystem that you can share your challenges with is something that really helps.

What advice do you have for other CPG founders?

You can’t go to market until you have all the boxes checked. You’re going to have to make corrections and check them all. Entrepreneurs are always rushing to market; you’re already imagining yourself with your own label.

The market is very deceiving. It looks like the threshold is easy — to go on a shelf; but it’s very paradoxical. It’s not only about getting on the shelf, it’s about staying and achieving good results — a totally different threshold throughout time.

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