On the up · 28 February 2018

How this energy drink entrepreneur built a brand ready-made for Asian markets

Wake Drinks
Wake Drinks is tapping into China’s booming demand for sports drinks
Since launching his healthy energy drinks brand, Wake Drinks, in 2014, Alex Buckley has had one eye fixed on lucrative business opportunities in the Far East.

By positioning Wake Drinks as a healthier alternative to rival drinks with a distinctively British feel, Buckley built a lifestyle brand tailor-made for Asian markets, and has successfully leveraged the export power of the Union Jack.

Business Advice sat down with Buckley to discuss the brand’s foundation, breaking into Asian markets and what the future has in store.

  1. Who are you and what’s your business?

Im Alex Buckley, the founder of active lifestyle brand, Wake Drinks. We develop and produce active lifestyle drinks that contain ingredients such as green tea, guarana and berry, to create a unique taste.

  1. How long have you been around for?

I set up Wake Drinks in 2014, and the company has gone from strength to strength since then.

  1. How do you make money?

Our success has come from our ability to sell the product directly to distributors and direct to retailers, particularly abroad in markets such as China. We sell our product to Hong Kong’s biggest trading house, Jardine Matheson, as well as high-end supermarkets in China, and hotels.

  1. What makes you different and why should people take notice?

What sets us apart is the ethos behind our brand. I was inspired to set up a product after noticing a gap in the market for healthy energy drinks free from artificial flavours and with lower caffeine levels.

It was clear there was also a demand for this type of product as mindful consumers take more notice of the ingredients in food products. Being a quality British product also attracts interest from consumers in foreign markets such as Asia.

  1. What was key in terms of getting started?

I would say inspiration, and the ability to identify a gap in the market helped me to start the business. I was living in Malaysia when my idea for Wake Drinks first took hold. Drinks like Red Bull are very popular in Asia to the extent that people even believe that sports drinks can cure conditions like dengue fever!

I also noticed that the Union Jack has a really strong presence and popularity in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, China and this really stuck in my mind. When I returned to the UK, I wanted to start a business as a form of passive income. I decided that I wanted to create a British-made active lifestyle drink that could be exported to Asian markets, and that’s when Wake Drinks was born.
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  1. What’s your biggest achievement to date?

Successfully breaking into China with our product was a defining moment in the journey so far, as it’s such a huge market and therefore an excellent brand building exercise. The UK market is saturated with competitors, whereas the sheer volume of China’s population means it is easier to sell the product there.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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