The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Manchester graduates create ‘energy sweets’

– Graduates sign contract with FoodonCampus
– Idea wins business competitions in Manchester and Brussels

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A group of Manchester graduates have created what might be the perfect answer for tired students in the midst of dissertation work or an all-nighter revision session – energy sweets.

Four graduates, three from the Manchester Business School, formed company Kaffeination and have developed their own caffeine sweets, ‘Ups’, as an alternative to energy drinks, hugely popular among students.

“If you are sick of drinking, that is where we think we come in,” said MBS graduate and CEO of Kaffeination Matthias Schmid. “We place our product so that we are an additional offer to energy drinks.”

Schmid and his colleagues held a launch for Ups on campus in January, wearing boiler suits covered in packets of their sweets. And last week spoke to The Mancunion about where their idea came from and their success so far.

The idea initially came from an excess of coffee, said Schmid, who holds a Masters in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.

“We had a Uni project to do, we were all intensively working, and we had already had five cups of coffee each,” he said. “We were kind of bored by coffee.

“We had a bag of sweets next to us and one guy said it would be perfect if these sweets could give us energy, we looked at him, we laughed and said yeah it would be cool.

“So we interrupted our work, did a little research and couldn’t find anything online that was like these jelly sweets but with caffeine in them.

“And from then it was like a step-by-step thing. We had the idea, we developed a prototype, and found a supplier.

The foursome then took part in and won a business plan competition put on by the University of Manchester and Manchester Enterprise Centre called “Venture Further 2012.”

“We entered and we got first place and four thousand pounds funding with it,” said Schmid.

After their launch, Kaffeination moved into the University of Manchester’s Innovation Centre, who provide office space for free for half a year for start-ups, and signed a number of contracts including one for Ups to be stocked on campus.

“Our main contract is with the FoodonCampus outlet at the University,” Schmid said. “We are also in different corner shops and online shops – we are now accredited with Amazon, which is starting [this] week.

“And we are in talks with supermarkets, newsagents – we are trying everything we can at the moment to get the sweets out there.”

The group plan to release new products this year, which are based on customer feedback.

Schmid said, “We are bringing new products to the market in the summer – a new taste and a sugar free version.

“We have been trying to get feedback from everyone who buys a bag, and two of the main points were they wanted more choice in taste and a sugar free version, especially among the girls.”

In April, the four graduates are competing in the Rice University Business Plan Competition in Houston, Texas.

“We are going to America because we won a European competition in Brussels,” said Schmid. “We won a thousand dollars and a free ticket going to America for a one-week boot camp, the competition and they pay for the flights and hotels.”

“We are competing in one of the world’s biggest business-plan competitions to get some money and look for investors.

Schimd added, “We have also put private money in the company, all of our savings are invested in sweets.”

When asked what advice he would give to students with a business idea Schmid said, “Definitely go for it.

“As long as you are in university it is a safe playground, nothing can happen.

“You can really test the idea in the time you are a student.”