Sixers Innovation Lab Introduces New Hydration Product Hydrant As Latest Startup Addition
“Seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated,” Seth Berger, Managing Director of the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, told The Sports Biz. “They told me about the problem — and I found out I was in that 75% — I put Hydrant in my morning water and my morning headache went away. And I thought, ‘this product works!’”
Berger is referencing the product Hydrant and its co-founders, John Sherwin and Jai Jung Kim, who initially met Berger through a mutual friend. Incubating in Philadelphia since November 2018, the Innovation Lab announced Hydrant as the latest addition to its roster of startups on Thursday, May 2.
Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Innovation Lab, stated that Hydrant is “the most effective, best electrolyte hydration solution on the market today.” The powder-based mix contains 80% less sugar and four times the electrolytes of Gatorade, which continues to dominate market share with 77% of the U.S. sports drink market.
“Consumers are demanding a healthier, more effective product and that’s what we provide,” the 29-year-old Kim told The Sports Biz. “Our unique ingredient balance allows you to absorb water and electrolytes earlier in your digestive system than traditional sports drinks and even more than some of the newcomers in the field, so it’s really the science behind the product that is driving it forward.”
Hydrant, available in lime and grapefruit flavors, can be purchased either individually or through a subscription, and the company is making a big push to increase subscribers throughout the rest of 2019. To make a splash, Sherwin mentioned two key factors — content and education – which they feel they have to focus on to be successful before launching into retail in Q4. They will emphasize the science that led to Hydrant’s creation and explain why it is so effective, while deploying social media and influencer marketing to play integral roles in that messaging.
The Innovation Lab provides up to $1 million for each of its startups, which can pay for financing, complimentary housing and marketing, sales and legal consulting. Berger and his team; however, are selective when it comes to bringing on new companies and will only invest in up to six startups each year. He believes the most appealing part of working with the Innovation Lab — as opposed to, for example, Y Combinator or Techstars — is its ability to act as an operating partner and provide daily assistance.
“We see ourselves as part of their management team. Hydrant is an early stage business, but it’s one of those businesses that I think in a year or two is going to be so significant in the space… They’re going into retail soon. When they meet with their first customers, I’ll be in those meetings,” said Berger, the former CEO and founder of AND 1.
When asked if the influence of being a part of the HBSE ecosystem that includes the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers, currently in the midst of a playoff run, played any part in their decision to join the Innovation Lab, Sherwin laughed.
“I think the teams were more like icing on the cake. Our primary focus was finding the right investment partner with strategy experience and who’s really willing to coach us and mentor us throughout this journey.”