Innovations in bottle filling technology allowed me to create a beverage that has no need for preservatives. Hylux has less sugar and calories than Gatorade and Vitamin Water, while containing more nutrition in form of vitamins and electrolytes. Hylux is a low-calorie and low-sugar alternative to traditional sports drink.
How did you come up with the name of your business?
I created Hylux during my first-year at Northeastern University after an unexpected heart illness called myocarditis ended my career as a track athlete. After recovering, my doctor advised me to pay attention to my diet. As a result of this, I found myself having to dilute high-sugar and high-calorie sports drink with water to make them healthier. This was very tedious, so I envisioned a light nutritional beverage that would get me back into fitness.
Who inspired you to start this business?
My parents inspired me to start this business. I told them about my idea a while back and one day, my parents told me that I could either continue talking or try to do it. This came as a shock because through all the planning and conceptualizing, I did not think that I would pursue this idea until later in life but here we are. The support from my parents was really the nudge forward that I needed to start chasing my goals instead of pushing them off until a later date.
Who is your target market?
Men and women who like to stay active as well as people who want to make healthier choices when it comes to the drinks that they consume.
How have you financed the idea?
Bootstrapping – I raised money from friends and family. Northeastern University also gave me a $10,000 grant after I won a SharkTank style pitch contest. I am now using Kickstarter to move the business forward and I want you to support my crowdfunding campaign.
What sets you apart from your competitors?
Hylux has less sugar and calories than Gatorade and Vitamin Water while containing more nutrition in the form of vitamins and electrolytes. Hylux is a low-calorie and low-sugar alternative to traditional sports drink.
What is the long-term plan for this idea?
My goal is to grow the business throughout the east coast, then expand to the west coast and then throughout the United States. My personal goal is to air a Superbowl commercial for my product – this would show how far I have come.
What challenges do you face?
Some of my business challenges are:
- Finding manufacturers interested in making small quantities for me as opposed to truckload quantities;
- The trouble of using all stock options for my drink instead of making custom components. This is because something like a custom bottle would be extremely expensive.
- Building my brand and getting on the shelves of various stores is a challenge because of how new my product is in the marketplace – but I am working on this.
What five (5) key things have you learned since starting this idea?
- You never know enough even with experience. There is an infinite amount of things to know. The sooner you realize this and humble yourself, the easier it will be to continuously take in information and grow.
- Respect people. Give attention to and respect people who help you put together your concept and support you in your early stages. Your early supporters are there because they want to. Make them understand that you appreciate this.
- A good idea or product does not always equate to a good business. Concept and execution are what determines success. Everyone has a concept. But not everyone can execute. Even with a weak product or an idea that is not the most unique, proper execution of bringing the concept to marketplace will make the product or service successful. You can spend decades building a concept and end up failing because what you had on paper did not translate into real life.
- Find mentors. Get as many mentors as you can and keep productive relationships with them. These are the people who will guide you, give you insight and greatly assist your decision-making process.
- Be wise. There are a lot of people who will try to make a quick buck off of you. Navigate cautiously, especially if you are new to the industry.
What five (5) things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?
- Everyone works hard – that is the minimum requirement. It is your job to do more than work hard.
- Believe in yourself and your ideas. You should feel comfortable questioning your ideas and direction. But never question your ability to succeed. You maybe going down the wrong path and that is fine. Keep trying until you find the right one. Never get into the habit of thinking that you can never find or get on the right path.
- Do not waste your time. Figure out who is here to help and who does not really care. Do not waste time trying to get people who do not care to support you.
- Connect with others. Find out what meetups or competitions are held for startups in your industry and go to them. You cannot complain about not knowing anyone in the industry or having no guidance if all you do is keep to yourself. You will be surprised at what you learn as you network.
- Support other startups and make the extra effort to connect with businesses and people. You can learn a lot from following or supporting a startup. Everyone conducts business differently, so exposure is key for learning.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but say ‘there is no money’?
- Start to look into what it would take to start the business, even when you have no money – make phone calls, do your research and be ready to learn from others.
- Take the time to look at how your idea holds up under real world factors like, “How much does an app developer cost?” “Who are the suppliers that I need to create my invention?” It is much more important to have a concept with substance than just an idea that you want to pursue. A well thought-out concept is what you can pitch to investors and banks. Saying that there is no money should not be an excuse but take the time and be committed to learn about what it would take to make your concept a reality. And if you do not learn what you need to do to make your concept real, you may never be in a position to receive investments or win money. Even if you did fall into some cash, you would be without an actionable plan to utilize the money properly.
How can African youths continue to support each other?
African youths can support one another by supporting each other’s ideas and dreams. The enemy of innovation is conformity. Not putting down each other’s dreams and goals and offering constructive criticism. Emotional support especially in the beginning of one’s entrepreneurial journey is key.
How many jobs have you created so far?
Right now, I have created one (1) full-time position and some part-time opportunities for those interested in sales and marketing.
How has technology enhanced your business?
Innovations in bottle filling technology allowed me to create a beverage that has no need for preservatives. To do this, the beverage is heated to 185 degrees Fahrenheit and then filled at that temperature. Specially engineered plastic bottles are able to withstand these temperatures and allow the process to be commercially viable.
How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
By creating more entrepreneurial-based programs that are accessible to everyone. Whether you want to start a business or not, learning about what it means to be entrepreneurial is imperative because it teaches you how businesses operate.
We can also have more people supporting as mentors and advisers to young students. Insight from people around you is largely important for innovators, because it is what guides you through the decision-making process. Often times when you look at the most successful people, one will find that they have really accomplished mentors and advisers in the form of parents, friends or even just acquaintances.
In addition, access to grants and investment funds and a shift in the cultural perception of failure is also very crucial. In a lot of places, failure is seen as the worst possible outcome. For entrepreneurs however, failure is how you learn and grow.
Finally, having small to medium grants that young entrepreneurs can compete and work towards attaining will support and improve innovation. Much of the action in Silicon Valley is driven by the knowledge that there is money to be gotten from investors. This money is visible because deals are being made all the time. Being visible with grant and investment money in Africa is a key component in motivating entrepreneurs. It will help them to realize that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Email: Lletts (at) DrinkHylux.com