Socialising over drinks is no stranger to most lifestyles. Sometimes, you may get caught up with your conversations and end up not watching your alcohol limit.
That is closely followed with a head that’s so heavy the next morning, you feel as if you’ve been hit by a brick and barely a memory of what occurred the previous night.
While you slowly mull over the regrets of yesterday, a knot starts to form in your chest. This sinking feeling has been dubbed ‘hangxiety’.
One in ten people experience hangxiety, the feeling of anxiety during a hangover. The main cause of it is Acetaldehyde, a substance in alcohol that increases the stress, hormone levels, and heart rates in the body.
To remedy that, Singapore start-up, Bounceback, produces an anti-hangover remedy with liver strengthening properties.
Prior to forming Bounceback, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Roy Ang found himself drinking an average of three to four times a week frequently at networking sessions. The networking sessions brought him business partnerships, long-term relationships and friendships yet at the risk of harming his liver.
Then a Business Development Manager, Ang struggled with his productivity during the day after actively networking through the night. It was his Japanese partners that informed him about the existence and popularity of hangover supplements; a staple in their networking kit.
Hence, in an effort to counter the hangover effect, Ang sought for hangover supplements abroad and found that they worked well for him.
Introducing hangover supplements into the local market
Ang soon realised that there was an opportunity for such a product in Singapore, especially since hangover supplements weren’t easily accessible locally. If available, they would cost a pretty penny due to the middlemen in Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) value chains and having descriptions written in foreign languages, thus confusing consumers.
“We felt then that starting Bounceback could add value to the lives of working professionals by launching in markets where hangover supplements were not prevalent,” share Ang.
Despite the potential business idea at hand, Ang and Ming Hao – his fellow co-founder – wasn’t certain if the idea would come to fruition.
“Like any other cautious entrepreneur, our first production batch was small – 1,000 boxes to be exact – and the idea behind this was to test the product out beforehand in the market. We were giving out free samples for people to try and the response was great. When we officially launched, we had already gotten a few hundred customers placing orders with us.”
Roy Ang, CEO and co-founder of Bounceback
Ang and his team worked hard to gauge the public’s response. They would spend a fair amount of time talking to the customers, understanding their needs and receiving feedback. They were able to obtain a pool of data on product efficacy which showed an 89% efficacy rate.
“We believe that if we can meet our customers’ needs by solving their problems through our product, we can continue to scale our business operations from there.”
Blending unique ingredients for maximum efficacy
Bounceback’s products are made with 100% natural ingredients. Ang and his team spend a good six months to a year on research and development (R&D). During which, they worked closely with their lab partners to test more than 50 hangover supplements across the world before creating their own formula.
The products are made up of its own unique blend of ingredients and dosages that aim to achieve optimal results for consumers. Today, it has 22 ingredients, inclusive of vitamins, minerals, and a mix of botanical herbs. The two hero ingredients are DHM -proven for its efficacy- and milk thistle, known for its liver protection function.
DHM increases alcohol metabolism and helps break down the alcohol in the body quicker, provided the right dosage is consumed. Hence, consumers absorb and break down the alcohol faster. That said, Ang emphasises that consumers should still drink lots of water to flush out the remnants of alcohol in their bodies as well.
Facing market challenges
The brand completed its Seed funding round in 2021 with investors like Jonathan Tan, Director of Prism+, Joel Leong, Co-founder of Shopback, and Aaron Tan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Carro. It is looking to secure another round of funding in the upcoming Pre-Series A.
To date, it has raised US$2.5 million. Its current investors include Bonjour Holding, a listed company in Hong Kong, Paragon Capital, and Sparklabs Ventures in Taiwan, among others.
With the amount raised, Ang hired the best employees he could to build a team that shared the same vision. He also spent a fair amount of money to educate the market on the functions of a hangover supplement, its benefits, and why Bounceback’s products work best in terms of safety and efficacy.
Yearly, they also spend a seven-digit sum on marketing and are committed to spending more to educate the global market. Finally, part of the money is utilised for the company’s investments in R&D.
Earlier in June 2022, while the brand reached break even point. Now, it is on track to raise another funding amount by the end of this year to prepare for expansion into more markets both regionally and globally.
However, Ang faced many challenges before his success. Scepticism was the main issue. The common comments were “are you selling drugs”, “is this safe?”, and “is this a placebo?” were often heard.
“When we brought the product to bars, many bar owners weren’t convinced. Most didn’t entertain us. Fast forward to a year later, if you walk into a pub to ask about our brand, it’s likely they’ve either tried it before or heard about it through word of mouth,” Ang says.
Today, more than 50% of its customers make a repurchase after four months.
Another challenge Ang and his team faced was the knowledge gap within the industry. Building a supplement is no easy feat. There was much to learn about licensing, sourcing raw ingredients, working with production houses, and going through all the necessary tests before selling. Fortunately, they were able to meet up with industry experts along the way, and they continue learning on a day-to-day basis.
Not just a temporary solve, but a future healthcare need
As Singapore sees lesser restrictions, in-person client meetings have slowly picked up and bars are operating in full swing. The demand for alcohol consumption is expected to be on a rising trajectory till 2025, with 47% of spending and 25% of spirits consumption attributed to bars and restaurants.
Addressing the future of Bounceback, Ang says: “I believe Bounceback serves its purpose for those required to drink once in a while. It solves a pain point. Though we don’t encourage binge drinking, our product helps to boost liver health when one does drink. Having said that, hangover supplements are but a small subset of the entire supplement and wellness industry.”
Ang foresees Bounceback growing and riding at the back of a trend as the hangover supplement industry continues to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15%. However, he admits that beyond said supplements that tackle hangovers, consumers will also need other high-quality, affordable products to complement their daily lifestyles.
In the near future, the Bounceback team has great aspirations to build more products and services that serve a greater audience. The predominantly online brand views its product development from a rational standpoint.
“Even though capsules are the form factor with the highest efficacy rate, there are other variations from food to liquid forms that might make the supplement easier to consume. We’re looking at other supplement ranges to tackle other problem statements that are outside the realm of drinking. After all, we do see ourselves moving towards becoming a health and wellness company,” he continues.
Plans for expansion into multiple markets and hyper-localising their products are in the works as well. Ang is also looking into multiple distribution channels that complement the existing online brand they’re building.
“I believe we can put Singapore on the world map as a frontrunner in the health and wellness industry. We’re already operating in ten markets today, a year post-launch, but there’s still much that needs to be done.”
Featured Image Credit: Bounceback