Energy drink going west for a boost

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SCOTTISH health entrepreneur Bert Jukes is planning a major North American launch of his Little Big Shot energy drink this summer having raised £1.5 million from investors.

He said that the investment from the company’s British backers is sufficient to meet current global expansion plans but he has confirmed he is in talks with US venture capitalists in an effort to raise a further $100m (£65.6m).

As part of its North American launch, the company will showcase Little Big Shot with a “major presence” at the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo event and exhibition held in July. He is in talks with an “internationally known sports star” to become the drink’s ambassador in the country and plans to sponsor a youth hockey team and training scheme that will be called the “Little Big Shots”.

Next month the company is set to announce a deal to license the product with Planet Foods, a Calgary-based distributor of natural and organic food and drink brands across western Canada.

Recently the company began selling the drink in the UK in Tesco. But North America is only one market Jukes is targeting, and his ambition is to make significant inroads into the £22 billion global energy drinks market.

Jukes said: “We can have just one per cent of that. That is all coming but that takes money. We have three major investors at the table which will get us to the next level. We will have five divisions – Europe, Far East, Middle East, Africa and the Americas.”

He said the company is also on the verge of a “multi-million deal” with a drinks bottler and distributor in the US and has established an office in Dallas.

To develop the drink he initially invested £200,000 with Glasgow Caledonian University to come up with a formula. He toyed with combinations of ingredients, including caffeine and Taurine, a naturally occurring sulfonic acid found in bile and used in the biggest selling energy drink, Red Bull. Having rejected the combination as too “me too”, he then came across the concept of “deep ocean minerals” which are high density nutrients and trace elements piped from sea depths of 2,000 feet off the coast off Taiwan. He claims that the mineral content in the sea water has a similar composition to that of human blood. He envisages the mineral concentrate will be suitable for a range of products including snacks and yogurts. “Deep ocean minerals is a colossal new find,” said Jukes.

“The potency of these minerals is very high. The liquid is easily absorbed in the blood stream – within half an hour of drinking it you have a purified body. If you want an energy lift, this is the baby.”

Jukes became well known in Scotland when he founded Best of Health, a company that marketed a low-carbohydrate diet regime that won favour with a number of celebrities. He defended the company’s “pyramid” sales model which came under criticism at the time. He said: “Avon cosmetics have been around for years. Even Sir Richard Branson has his own network marketing company. But they don’t get these over here.”