The OneGum adventure started in 2013. Ludovic, François et Romain, three old friends, had just graduated from university, and were often tired because of their new work commitments, gym sessions and work trips. They had never really manage to find an ideal quick, portable solution to tiredness on the go.
Together, they found the miracle cure: an energy gum containing caffeine and vitamins!
This product, that they decided to call OneGum, enables users to carry several controlled doses of energy (one packet contains the equivalent of approximately ten coffees!) around in their pocket or bag on a daily basis. Even better: the chewing gum format enables a quicker absorption of the active ingredients, which go straight through the mucous membranes of the mouth into the bloodstream instead of going through the digestive system.
After a year of R&D, François, one of the three founders, had to go abroad to finish his master's degree, and Ludovic and Romain threw themselves into the OneGum adventure. They spent months driving round France promoting their product in the country's numerous service stations. After several highly successful test phases, they signed with Argedis, the company behind Total service stations, in 2015, on a national level.
At the same time, the two friends went round the capital's pharmacies, and managed to convince several of them of the product's efficacity. Next step: supermarkets! The small city-based chains Franprix and Monop' were the first to sign with the start up.
After a chance encounter with the physiotherapist of a French Ligue 1 club, top French football teams started to show interest in the product, which they found to be an ideal way to boost players' concentration and performance on the pitch thanks to its quick action and its light, practicle format.
By the end of 2017, OneGum was consumed by the players of several Ligue 1 cubs, and by interntational teams, a great accomplishment which brought the innovative company to the forefront of French national news. At the same time, Romain and Ludovic signed a national distribution agreement with Frances biggest supermarket chain, any entrepreneur's dream! They launched production of huge quantities of gum and increased the company's capital to finance ambitious marketing campaigns.
But the transition to a national presence was far too brutal for the start up, and 2018 was a real ordeal for the two young entrepreneurs.
The sales reps of the multinational companies that dominated the checkouts in the supermarket chains took the start up's products off the shelves and prevented them from leaving the stockrooms. Romain and Ludovic couldn't afford to hire a team of 20 people to cover the whole country, so they had to admit defeat. Of the 2000 shops in which they were initially supposed to be present,only about 100 actually had OneGum in stock.
The financial impact on the company was huge. Deeply affected by this failure and by the complexity of working with French supermarkets, Romain left the company in November 2018. Les pertes financières sont très importantes.
Ludovic, the only remaining founder, was faced with a difficult choice: he could give up and move on, or fight for all he was worth to save his company. He chose the second option. He took at a personal loan to finance his company's growth and completely rethought the strategy.
Ludovic was now alone at the head of the company, and adopted a radical new strategy: he invested hugely in sport, signing a sponsorship contract with the freshly promoted Ligue 1 club, Stade de Reims. He was convinced that consumers were looking for products developed by local start ups, and decided to launch more innovative products, despite the market being dominated by multinationals. He also decided that exporting the concept abroad should be a new priority, and hired a binational chief operating officer, Harriet, to carry out these projects.
Harriet's mission is clear: to centre the company's strategy on sport, to expand to new markets and to develop new, innovative products.
His decision was risky, but the young entrepreneur was right to follow his instinct: 2019 was a great year, kicking off with several press pieces on the use of OneGum by professional sportspeople and by a huge amount of sales on the internet. By the end of the year, the company's sales had doubled compared to the year before and OneGum had entered the Spanish, Swiss and Norvegian markets with overseas sales representing almost 40% of total sales, compared to under 5% in 2018.
OneGum is kicking off 2020 with confidence, planning to expand its international development and launch new countries. After a successful Ulule campaign in the summer of 2019, the young company was able to develop a new product: OneMint, an energy breath mint, to help you to make the most of your busy lives without ever letting tiredness bring you down! The product launch is planned for the month of April, and we're going to keep on innovating!
Behind this revolutionary idea, a young, dynamic team
"I'm the managing director of a small company and mum to two young children, so I'm often pretty tired. I'm often running between meetings, business trips and school pick-ups, so I don't always have the time to make myself a coffee! OneGum is the perfect solution for a boost on the go."
Harriet, Managing Director
"I'm a serial entrepreneur and I am always on the go. I love travelling and I run a lot to let off steam. Thanks to OneGum, I can keep going all day and I never miss my planes!"
"For a while, I was working at OneGum whilst finishing my business degree. OneGum helped me to get through my exams and still be on time at my meetings with supermarket managers! »
Marion, Sales Manager