'The Sweet Business With Yu' podcast -- Nick Symmonds, Run Gum

Nick Symmonds-created Run Gum to raise $500k of capital after gaining listing in Target

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Nick Symmonds' Run Gum is available in Target stores. Pic: Run Gum
Nick Symmonds' Run Gum is available in Target stores. Pic: Run Gum

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Run Gum, a caffeinated gum brand created by two-time US Olympian Nick Symmonds, has secured listing in Target stores across the USA, and now the company is looking to raise $500k of capital through an external investor to further fuel its exponential growth.

According to Symmonds, Run Gum has been growing at 99% in revenue year-over-year since its initial launch in 2014.

“We always knew we would get our shot at a big brick-and-mortar retailer”​ since the company was launched four years ago, he told ConfectioneryNews.

“Target is a dream partner. If I have to pick one retailer to go nationwide, it would be Target… We actually used a broker based out of Minneapolis to strike that deal.”

Symmonds noted the team has been in touch with multiple funds and angel investors, and it is hoping to find an investor that can eventually acquire Run Gum.

“Exit by acquisition is certainly what we are looking for… probably somewhere around four to five years,”​ he said.

Stimulants, not the drinks

It was not a complete coincidence for Symmonds to start his energy gum company, as he was not satisfied with samples from several energy drink companies while competing in the team USA back in the days.

“I tried them, and I went for a run, but having that heavily acidic liquid slosh around my stomach gave me a really bad indigestion. It was just eating my stomach away,”​ said Symmonds. “I wanted the stimulants out of the energy drink, but I just didn’t want to drink anything.

“So I actually took the stimulants out of the energy drink and infuse them into a piece of chewing gum. Much the way Nicorette uses chewing gum to deliver the nicotine system. We are using chewing gum to deliver caffeine and B Vitamins.”

Symmonds added the product has so far received positive feedback from cyclists to runners because “the kick is so immediate… you absorb 100mg of caffeine very quickly.”

Regulatory concerns?

However, several energy gum brands, such as Mars Wrigley’s Alert, had to halt their productions in the past as they faced legal and regulatory concerns about their potential harmful ingredients.

Consumer researchers, including Marcia Mogelonsky from Mintel, also shared their worries that caffeinated gum products may miss their core audiences – kids and teenagers – due to their bitter taste.

She said previously: “Think of all the teens who drink Red Bull and other energy drinks, and all the preteens who love extreme candy, sour, bitter etc. Will the bitter taste keep them away?”

About a year ago, Mars Wrigley brought Alert back​ to the US as the FDA has yet to provide guidelines for caffeine usage in most food products, according to this site.

“Wrigley coming into the marketplace kind of verifies and validates what we are doing. This is a better way to get caffeine. We are zero calorie, zero sugar product… but I think one way Wrigley really missed the mark is that they market [Alert] as a confectionery product,”​ whereas Run Gum does not, said Symmonds.

“We are merchandizing in the sports nutrition aisle and pharmacy. We consider ourselves more of a dietary supplement.”

New product launch

Run Gum is currently available in three flavors: mint, fruit and cinnamon, and it is coming up with a “hotly anticipated”​ new variety in January 2019, according to Symmonds.

“We actually did launch an ‘extra strength’ formula via various successful Kickstarter campaign back in February (2018),”​ he said. “We don’t want to be over SKUed, and our current line represents flavors that people love.”

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