This week we speak to Angus Brown, founder of Ārepa. Dubbed “the worlds smartest drink”, the caffeine-free product is scientifically proven to keep you feeling calm and thinking clear under moments of pressure. By the end of 2020, the brand sold more than a million units and from March has been available as a new functional beverage category at Coles focusing on brain health and mental wellbeing.
ISB: What was the inspiration behind you developing Ārepa?
AB: I was inspired to develop Ārepa after losing a friend to mental health and grandparents to cognitive-related illnesses, at the time I was in my first job out of university working for a very large energy drink company in sales and thought, “Am I doing any good here?” Our mission now is to make brains work better through accessible and proven brain food.
ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced getting the enterprise off the ground and how did you overcome it?
AB: Convincing a world-renowned Australian neuroscientist to help us develop a brain drink and then convincing investors to back us heading into our first clinical trial. These things are high risk but we believe it has paid off as we have the published evidence and a growing number of happy customers who feel the effects.
ISB: How have you approached persuading the market about the product’s health benefits bearing in mind scepticism around false marketing behind other “so-called” health products?
AB: We knew this would be our biggest challenge upfront so that’s why we brought on Australias top neuroscientist Professor Andrew Schloly to help with the formulation and research. We then worked with independent universities to validate the effects in the beverage to ensure that the finished product worked (which it did!). We now have over $3 million of clinical trials deployed across seven different independent studies exploring how our formula affects aspects of mental performance and long-term neurological health to help build out the dossier of evidence towards Ārepa as a natural brainfood backed by science.
ISB: And how did you go about getting the range into 200 stores of the country’s largest supermarket chain?
AB: Coles were great to work with, they could see the science and our proof of sales and success in New Zealand. We are stoked to be ranged with them and are working hard to educate Australians on why a caffeine-free brain drink might be a smarter alternative under moments of pressure or stress.
ISB: What is your vision for the development of the business in the next couple of years?
AB: Our mission is to make brains work better and delay the onset of neurological decline worldwide through accessible, sustainable and proven brain food. We have a large study getting set up looking into the neuroprotective effects of our formula, if we show an effect and get more products like this into the hands of Australians we can impart a benefit to them and reduce the economic burden on the country.
ISB: And, finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on your journey you’d share with others looking to start their own business?
AB: Find smart people who know the industry to advise you, work hard and never give up!