“Craft-Brewed…Energy? Yes, indeed!”
We’re here today with Eric Masters of MATI Energy. MATI, if you don’t know it, has an incredible heritage story – and an even more efficacious product! We’re really excited to hear the story and pick Eric’s brain.
We have our own questions, but please feel free to chime in with your own!
Eric, thanks so much for joining us today.
Thank you for having me Seth! Happy to be here!
So about that heritage story…can you tell us a little about how MATI came to be, and why there’s so much passion for a product that demonstrates sincere efficacy?
Well, MATI is an incredible beverage that was created by an incredible woman.
Our founder, Tatiana Birgisson, was an undergrad student at Duke University who went on a quest to find a healthier energy drink. Traditional energy drinks contained chemicals, additives and ingredients that she didn’t consider safe or healthy, so she started experimenting on her own. She tried yerba mates, guarana drinks and brewing all kinds of teas – and then she discovered guayusa – which became the core of MATI’s magic. She went from brewing it for herself, to making it for her friends, to building a business that now has over $1 million in revenue and passionate consumers nationwide.
To have that kind of success and the passionate fans that we do, the product itself needs to be pretty special. In MATI’s case, we have the cleanest label and simplest ingredients of any energy drink on the market – with just three ingredients in each can: brewed guayusa, fruit juice and carbonated water.
We now have our organic certification, making MATI the first ever craft-brewed, organic energy drink on the market. The functional benefits of the “focused energy” and the antioxidants, coupled with the great refreshing taste, are what makes MATI exceptional.
For those of us who may not be aware, what is Guayusa, and how did it lead to the world’s first craft-brewed organic energy drink?
Guayusa is very unique – we call it “the tea of the Amazon.” In addition to the natural caffeine, it contains theobromine which acts as a time release for the caffeine, so consumers get a nice, steady boost of energy and focus without any jittery spikes or crashes that they might get from coffee or other energy drinks.
MATI also has L-theanine, which helps with mental focus as it has a calm, relaxing effect and it has a ton of antioxidants and other generally good stuff.
What’s really great about guayusa is the taste. Unlike yerba mate or some other plants, it has much less tannin. In red wine, tannin is fantastic! In teas, it leads to a bitter or earthy aftertaste which most people don’t like – which is why other products made with yerba mate, guarana or other teas add sugar or sweeteners – to mask the taste.
At MATI, we take the naturally great tasting guayusa, go through our proprietary craft-brewing process, and add the organic juices to get the great taste that our consumers have come to enjoy. And that’s it – no sweeteners, no cane sugar, no Stevia, no additives.
Now let’s talk about where you come in! You have a ton of success leading marketing teams – even within the beverage industry…and now you’ve been tapped to lead one of the most exciting new organic energy drink brands. What are some of your pillars as you think about setting overall strategy and dramatically growing the footprint of MATI?
As simple as it sounds, it all starts with knowing your consumer.
For MATI, that means knowing who they are, when they need some healthy energy and what’s most important to them in their purchase decisions.
Our ideal consumer typically a young adult who needs a natural pick me up to get stuff done. They are looking for energy and refreshment and don’t want to compromise on eating and drinking healthy products along the way.
Our consumer can be be someone at the office, parents keeping up with their kids, college students; the list goes on and on. Currently, they may be reaching for a coffee, or a diet soda after lunchtime or just feeling sluggish. Those are the people who would be thrilled to grab a refreshing MATI and we’re working to grow our distribution footprint, our availability and our brand based on this foundation.
We’re looking to grow significantly in the natural channel – think Whole Foods, Fresh Market and in “non-traditional” immediate consumption occasions like foodservice and the At Work channel. Right now, we’re geographically focused in the Southeast, but obviously the consumer trends and demand are nationwide, so we’re beginning to expand distribution geographically as well.
The branding itself is very appealing – and I was honestly stunned with the quality of content being produced by your MATI Media channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCs2VAj3oZ5NNByFWbMvyODQ ), just based on the relative nascency of the brand (with respect to where it’s headed!). Can you tell us more about your approach to producing media and building your following?
Thank you for the kind words!
When it comes to brand building, it has to start with a complete brand idea – what the brand stands for and what you are trying to reinforce through all your communications and all of your channels.
It’s also critical that consumers understand why the brand has permission to talk about the idea – and for MATI, as an organic energy drink, we’re all about helping people achieve their natural potential. We do that by providing them with the natural energy that they need to get things done and to feel good about themselves.
From there, we just try to pick out topics that are relevant and engaging for our consumers . Rather than talking at them or just selling them all the time, we want to ignite a conversation with them and educate them along the way. We’re just getting started, but with our new approach and our new tagline “Be All of You”, we think there’s a very meaningful and strong relationship to be built and the whole team is excited!
Alright, we’ve gotten to that time where we like to look ahead. Can you give us 3 predictions for the future of Guayusa and organic energy drinks? (I’m thinking consumer education/adoption, market size, outside influences, etc.)
For starters, we know that today’s consumers are looking for healthier, cleaner food and drink options. Americans spend nearly $50 billion on organic food and drinks annually, and over 82% of U.S. households buy organic. That trend is not going to slow down and given that guayusa is still relatively unknown within this audience – there is a ton of upside potential.
In addition, all of the “healthy” consumer trends are accelerating – the focus on all-natural, low sugar diets, concerns about additives, etc. Consumer diets like Whole30, Keto and paleo are great fits for the new zero-calorie products that we launched in January.
There are even states such as Indiana that are discussing bans on sales of traditional energy drinks to minors. I don’t know if that will ever go through, but it just shows how much consumers and legislators are paying attention to the quality of ingredients in energy drinks, which bodes very well for MATI.
Combine all those trends with the fact that retailers are actively looking to offer healthier brands and resetting their stores to focus on these types of alternatives and MATI’s future is truly bright.
I’m not sure that was one big prediction or three smaller ones, but hope it answered the question!
Eric, thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing your incredible story! Hopefully, folks will get a chance to try MATI at eBev later this year (October 28th-30th in Las Vegas).
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