Dragons’ Den leap of faith opened doors for drinks firm

Smith (L) said the business had made significant strides since she filmed the Dragons’ Den TV programme with her business partner Lynwen Harrison (R) in March

Small food and drink businesses should take leaps of faith, such as appearing on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den television programme, to promote their businesses and make valuable industry connections.

That’s the view of the boss of sports drink business Nourish Me, Rachel Smith, who appeared on the popular show this week (February 2) along with her business partner and former Team GB triathlete Lynwen Harrison.

“I would encourage any business of our size to take part in the show; you need to take a leap of faith if you believe in the product,” Smith told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “It is an amazing experience for a small business like us to get our story out there. Dragons’ Den has made some businesses into fantastic success stories and we thought we could be one.”

‘Significant strides’

Although none of the five dragons decided to invest in the Sheffield-based sports recovery drink business, Smith said it had made “significant strides” since filming the programme.

“The programme was filmed last March, so things have moved on and changed a lot since then. We have received a small amount of funding from a local business in the summer and are now looking to take the next step with the product.”

Since filming, Nourish Me has worked with a number of professional football clubs and athletes.

Nourish Me has recently been taken on by Sheffield United Football Club as part of their nutrition, training and sports recovery strategy. The company supplies 500 bottles a month to the club’s first team and the under 18s training at Sheffield United’s Redtooth academy. 

Nourish Me now also sponsors the Paralympian table tennis player David Wetherill; the silver medallist paratriathlete Steve Judge; amateur triathlete Catherine Faux; nationally acclaimed climber Neil Mawson; triathlete Elliot Smales and up and coming junior triathlete and recently signed heptathlete Karla Drew.

The business is not seeking further investment, although Smith said she wouldn’t turn it down should the right person approach her, but instead the aim to align with the right organisations to take it forward.

“There is a huge amount of knowledge out there and we want to align ourselves with the right people.”

The University of Northumbria has worked with Nourish Me as part of a commitment to evidence-based research. Leatherhead Food Research is helping to reformulate the product and New Zealand dairy firm Fronterra has also shown an interest in the business in the past year.

‘Reformulating the drink’

“Working with Leatherhead, we are looking to take the drink forward, reformulating the drink by adding vitamin D, rebranding the label and colours of the bottle,” Smith added.

Smith and Harrison decided to take their all natural and dairy-based ready-made drink, aimed at elite and recreational athletes, on the show after being contacted by a producer.

The drink has been formulated according to the latest sports science research, paying attention to the science around the 20-minute optimum window after exercise. Recovery drinks comprise carbohydrate to replace muscle glycogen, protein to help repair damaged muscle tissue, and water to replace fluid loss. 

Sports scientists have discovered an optimal 20 to 30 minute window following training and competing when taking a protein and carbohydrate mix aids muscle recovery, allowing training to resume again sooner, Smith claimed.

Smith added that the mid-term goal is to secure a listing within a health food retailer.

“The recovery drinks market is a relatively new market, but one that will become a massive market,” she predicted.

Since Dragons’ Den aired last night, Smith said Nourish Me had received a “crazy” level of interest in the business on Twitter and Facebook.

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