By Jim Plouffe
A South Australian sports drink startup has raised more than $500,000 in seed capital from eight angel investors.
Flinders University startup Preserve Health will use the seed round to fund the market launch of PREPD, its range of hydration-boosting drinks backed by more than 20 years of medical research originally focussed on treating severe dehydration in children living in developing countries.
The Adelaide research team identified a special resistant starch to promote fluid absorption in the gut, tapping into an unused hydration potential in the body to absorb up to six litres of fluid per day.
Preserve Health chief executive, David Vincent said the medical formulation had then been adapted to meet the specific hydration needs of elite sportspeople.
“The latest research shows that dehydration can negatively affect sports performance by over 5 per cent, even when athletes are drinking to thirst. This means that even if you don’t feel dehydrated, your performance can suffer,” Vincent said.
“PREPD has been developed for a broad market, for anyone who trains for an hour or more and loses hydration.”
Vincent said the PREPD drinks “taste like a smoothie due to the special starch, which delivers a hydration boost unlike anything else currently available”.
“Our Prime and Recover drinks are consumed pre and post-exercise, and can help athletes hydrate up to 30 per cent more effectively,” he said.
PREPD was developed from proof-of-concept to market ready stage in partnership with Steric Trading, which owns and manufactures the popular Staminade sports drink brand.
Steric managing director Richard Brownie said that as a complement and enhancer to electrolyte drinks, PREPD could potentially grow the entire sports drink category.
Preserve Health will initially target PREPD towards professional, semi-pro and serious amateur endurance athletes in Australia through online sales.
“We are aiming for an October launch,” said Vincent.
Vincent said the drink was trialled with more than 100 athletes across a broad range of sports.
“The typical feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with athletes feeling more energetic and suffering less cramps towards the end of sport, and noticing less bodyweight (fluid) loss and less headaches afterwards,” he said.
The results of a 2014 clinical trial with the Adelaide Crows are also expected to be published in the coming months.
Early development for PREPD was supported by a South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund grant from TechInSA, the South Australian government’s startup support agency.
TechInSA chief executive Joe Thorp said Preserve Health highlighted the value of early commercialisation funding.
“This funding helps bridge the gap between the research lab and the marketplace as a catalyst for further private investment to grow new high tech companies in South Australia,” Thorp said.
This article was first published by The Lead South Australia.