Think of a supplement that provides an energy boost without introducing sugar and other harmful additives to the body. A supplement that is plant-based, natural, and ethical, which is pleasant to the taste and actually achieves what it claims to on the packet.
Two former athletes who mixed and tested supplements in their dorm room whilst at college did just that, and the outcome was a new concept that revolutionized the market.
A shareable product in the form of gum or a mint that boosted energy levels using natural ingredients and only a small amount of caffeine.
Hitherto, Ryan Chen and Kent Yoshimura had noticed that the only energy products on general sale were laden with sugar and other unhealthy chemicals, which somewhat undermined their purpose as health supplements.
This seemed to them to be a contradiction.
So they brought their inventions, NeuroGum and NeuroMints, onto Shark Tank and asked the five investors – Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daniel Lubetzky and Kevin O’Leary – for $750,000 and some assistance with marketing and retail in exchange for 5% equity in the product.
At a Glance
The pitch being made by Yoshimura and Chen was for $750,000 in return for a 5% stake in the company.
Robert actually offered $1 million but wanted a 20% share. He was unhappy with the entrepreneurs’ revised $10 million company valuation, suggesting $7 million to be a truer figure.
Kevin, also dubious about the valuation, had different ideas, coming in with $750,000 for 5% but also seeking a 50 cent per unit royalty up to $1 million recouped. His proposal was declined.
With no further interest being shown, the two left Shark Tank without a deal having been secured.
Who are the Founders?
While Yoshimura worked with the Japanese Olympic judo team, his college friend Chen was in training with the US Paralympic squad.
At college they needed to find a balance between their studies and their athletic endeavors, at the same time as experimenting with potential new ingredients for a healthy sugar-free alternative to conventional supplements.
Their first attempts needed some serious tweaking as opinion had it that the taste of their products left something to be desired, but once they had cracked it there would be no holding back.
Their first gum product was launched on IndieGoGo and raised over $20,000 in pre-sales.
Did NeuroGum Get a Deal on the Show?
Despite two offers being made, the entrepreneurs were not enthusiastic about the terms and so no deal was able to be reached.
There was disagreement about the worth of the company and both were concerned about the impact accepting what was on the table would have upon other investors.
What Happened to the Entrepreneurs After the Show?
In spite of not getting a deal on Shark Tank the duo have displayed aptitude and competence in the marketing of their product, with their initial company valuation of $15 million being retained and even looking set to grow.
Their natural energy supplements are on sale on Amazon as well as in over 6,500 retail stores.
In the two years following 2019 their revenue grew from around $1 million to in the region of $6 million, riding the wave of public interest in preservative-free nutrition.
About the Product
Yoshimura and Chen have the advantage of offering a product which they really believe in, ethically as well as for its obvious sales potential.
Energy drinks and other boosters have achieved some notoriety for causing crashes as well as presenting other tangible health risks.
Being low in caffeine and free from sugar as well as from other additives, NeuroGum was always going to reach out in an increasingly selective market.
Both mints and gum are available in two variants, helpfully named Calm & Clarity and Energy & Focus.
The former is to optimize composure whilst the latter is a natural caffeine-powered product for endurance.
A third supplement called Health & Vitality, flavored with blueberry guava and infused with vitamins, is also now available.
All NeuroGum products are safe and are approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies.
Despite majoring on its caffeine properties, the Energy & Focus variant contains only as much of it as half a standard cup of coffee.
What is more, it is naturally sourced rather than synthetic, and fortified with vitamins B6 and B12 as well as with l-theanine.
The company is also proactive in its social media output, reaching out to many thousands of followers through its various platforms.
Some Interesting Facts
Kent Yoshimura has a YouTube channel featuring exercise videos and both he and Ryan Chen are active in the community, through the company and as individuals.
One example has been their participation in a mural painting project on disused shops in parts of Los Angeles during recent unrest.
The company has more than 13,000 followers on Instagram, nearly 5,000 on Facebook and almost 3,000 on Twitter, showing a modern and forward-thinking approach to its marketing strategy.
Their appearance on Shark Tank was originally the idea of the show’s producers rather than of the entrepreneurs themselves.
They were contacted as it was felt their product might be of interest to the program’s audience.
But after filling out the relevant forms and hearing nothing back, they decided to reach out to the show three years later and this time they were successful.
Despite not securing a deal on the show, their pitch radically enhanced public awareness of their product and concept, and they have never looked back since.