In the haze of bringing home a newborn baby, cooking is often the last thing…
Don’t have time for a hangover? How a group of friends found a way to “prepear” for a big night out and turned it into a Canberra start-up.
Like some of the most interesting entrepreneurial stories, this one starts with a group of friends going on an adventurous holiday together.
It traverses the territory of over-consumption of alcohol, ancient Chinese herbal remedies and ends up in a potentially lucrative new business idea. And all without a single hangover.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Sami Chaudhury is an Australian National University Law student and a “glassy” at Mooseheads in his spare time.
In February he organised with a trip to Western Australia with four childhood friends. They were going to the WA Fringe Festival and were looking forward to partaking in a few beverages as part of the bonding experience.
One of the friends, Michael Ellis, who has left Canberra to become an urban planner in Sydney, mentioned having read a CSIRO report on the effectiveness of the Korean (or Nashi) pear in reducing hangover symptoms.
The trick is the pear must be consumed prior to drinking – not afterwards.
Being practical lads, the boys raced off to Coles, bought a bunch of Nashi pears and ate three each.
According to Sami, “that night, we played a drinking game – it got a bit wild”.
The next day the group was booked in for an early morning snorkelling expedition.
“We set out at 8am and we were getting battered by waves, and normally, if I was hungover, that’s not a situation I would have been able to handle for a second. Then we realised how much it actually had worked.”
According to lead CSIRO researcher Professor Manny Noakes “It appears that the factors in Korean pears act on the key enzymes involved in alcohol metabolism, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) to speed up alcohol metabolism and elimination or inhibition of alcohol absorption. In particular, reductions were seen in blood acetaldehyde levels, the toxic metabolic thought to be responsible for the hangover symptoms, with pear juice consumption.”
Much conversation ensued as the boys enjoyed their snorkelling expedition and the rest of their trip hangover-free before they decided to take things seriously and started doing some research.
While the remedy is popular across Asia, there were no specific products marketed to the Australian drinker.
“We were all keen to look at creating a business and we thought this was a niche in the market,” said Sami.
They returned to their prospective homes, settled on the name Prepear, started brewing batches in their kitchens and took on board another three Canberra friends keen to join in the burgeoning business.
Then they heard about the Canberra Innovation Network in the city, and were advised to pitch for a spot with the GRIFFIN Accelerator. The GRIFFIN Accelerator provides support and mentoring to promising local start-ups who can successfully pitch their idea. Chosen companies are given investment, a desk at the Canberra Innovation Network, weekly seminars and workshops, and ongoing support. Since 2014, GRIFFIN has assisted 25 companies who are collectively valued at over $36 million.
Sami and his team pitched successfully and won a $25,000 grant to get the show on the road.
They have now secured a factory in Sydney which produces their particular blend of juice and have refined the formulation to include an extract from the Oriental raisin tree which is also known for its effectiveness against hangovers.
“At first, there was always this sort of anxiety that crept in. Are we just operating on confirmation bias? But our friends and then our reviews have all been positive,” said Sami of the entrepreneurial journey.
The Prepear team has recently fulfilled 400 pre-orders and is hoping to scale up as word gets out about their product.
“Ideally we would have it sold in shops and bars and bottle shops so that people could factor Prepear into their drinking plans.”
Sami notes that while there are other hangover cures on the market, the idea of drinking a fresh and natural chilled juice that has been used for centuries in Asia, appeals to those wanting a healthy option.
“We are not saying that you can go and drink stupid amounts of alcohol with no effect–and in fact we would never condone binge drinking at all. Our message is that Prepear can help speed up alcohol processing in your body so that you can wake up feeling fresh and ready to get on with your day. We kind of see it as an efficiency measure for people who don’t have time to feel really bad the next day after a night out.”
He laughs at the amount of experimentation that has taken place with his friends over the past few months as they have tried rival products and refined their own formulation.
“We’ve tried everything. Our livers have paid the price for the success of the end product of Prepear.”
And while the HerCanberra team does not condone drinking to excess, nor does it have any scientific expertise upon which to make claims about effective hangover cures, we will say this:
We drank Prepear juices before our Christmas party the week before last. And despite generous enjoyment of many champagnes, we woke feeling none the worse for wear. This has not always been the case after our Christmas parties!
You can try Prepear by ordering at prepeardrink.com.au.