In my 9 prior startups where I've been a founder/co-founder, they've all been in software or healthcare. Those are comfortable markets where I have backgrounds, plus I personally enjoy the complexities of building go-to-market marketing and sales plans in these demanding markets. My forays into consumer products have been limited to a medtech product sold in chain pharmacies and to outerwear apparel working with the genius of legendary CB Vaughn at CB Sports.
At Tufts' Derby Entrepreneurship Center, the excitement for me in watching company creation is the power of the word "entrepreneurship" of course, but it's really about the depth of the word "innovation" which is the DNA that is spread across all our 10 individual schools at Tufts. One of those schools is the world-renowned Freidman School of Nutrition where, about a year ago, I met Simin Meydani, a Senior Scientist, Professor of Nutrition and Immunology and the former Vice Provost for Research for the University.
Simin and her team have created and successfully tested in her lab a formulation of 24 vegetables and fruits which has significantly extended life while reducing obesity of the lab animals. With the research and discovery licensed to Tufts and with patents pending, I asked Simin what she planned to do with her breakthrough work.
The result has been the recent creation of a company with two other highly respected food scientists, who have had prior successes in juice companies, and with me, a continuing student of everything related to entrepreneurship and, of course, marketing.
This is pure Tufts entrepreneurship at its best.
- deep research and science with proven lab results
- 3 founders with deep experience in the science of nutrition and 1 in starting companies
- product-market-fit definition from formulation experiments to deciding on a juice
- repeated kitchen formulations for taste, color, and texture
- prototyping planned for September-November, limited production in March
- A CEO search underway helped through Tufts and a well-known venture firm
- A 6-student team developing a marketing plan due in early December
- limited cash, but nothing new that has not been done before
- ...and, of course, tons of competition and high risk
As brilliant and as compelling as is the science of extending life and reducing obesity, success will come down to specific market and persona definitions, exacting value propositions and online Inbound marketing tactics in what will become a grab-and-go juice marketed around "healthy aging" and taglines yet to be developed and tested.
Juices in a typical chain supermarket (think Whole Foods and Market Basket) are in four different aisles:
- The orange juice aisle commanded by Tropicana, the largest juice producer anywhere.
- The Belly Wash Aisle (my definition) sold solely by color and high sugar. Think the brand, High C
- The V8 Aisle marketed as 1 vegetable must be good.
- The Fruit & Vegetable Aisle shown here, the home of Naked, Boathouse, Pom and others.
Bottomline in all this $36.5B market category of juice...
- There are no scientific or medical claims of any kind
- Definitely no science, but there is solid product and packaging engineering
- Solid marketing focused on color, sweetness and the container
As the VF24 founder team muscles up over the next year, I'll keep you up to date. Everyone knows the risks are high, but there is a strong belief based on the deep science of the product, the depth of our Tufts connections, and the experience in the science of marketing, that Tufts will produce one more success in entrepreneurship. John Bello, the genius and brilliant marketer as CEO of SoBe and as CEO of his current beverage company, Reed's, is a Tufts grad and always a consummate entrepreneur!
Enjoy what looks to be a great weatha' weekend. I arrived here in VT late last night, and now listening to the sunny forecast, I'm not sure that I won't be driving back to the NH beach early tomorrow AM. Wherever you are this weekend...just enjoy!!!
At any time, if you want to discuss your own sales and marketing planning for the rest of this year, just connect with me for some quick ideas and feedback. There's no cost to a call or two, plus I love listening and talking about this new rapidly changing world of sales and marketing. It's nothing like the old days of 2020! In the meantime, take a look at our 2022 edition of "Writing the 2022 Winning Sales Plan" , or our Writing the Winning Marketing Plan in 2022.
Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts.