Interview with Toby Scheckter
16:39 27 October 2011
Interview with Toby Scheckter
Claire Pitcher visited Toby Scheckter at his dads farm in Overton todiscover how he came to produce the worlds first organic energy drink...
Laverstoke Park Farm on the outskirts of Overton is known as The University of Organics and one of its most recent graduates is Jody Scheckters son, Toby. At 33 years old, hes been following in his fathers entrepreneurial footsteps. He started racing at just 10 years of age while living in South Africa and continued when the Scheckter family moved to the UK and to Laverstoke.
I was racing on weekends and working on the farm during the week, which was a bit of a reality check, one minute I was signing autographs, the next driving a tractor!
It was while he was working in America that this young entrepreneur had a light bulb moment. Working in motorsport management he was often dealing with a variety of sponsors and more than once he worked alongside energy drink manufacturers.
I realised there must be room for someone to produce a much healthier version. I didnt enjoy drinking any of them; I didnt know half of the ingredients on the can.
So work began on Scheckters Organic Energy drink.
I spent two years developing the concept, sourcing ingredients and putting them together, says Toby. I thought I would have it finished in just a few months, but it took much longer than I thought. To get all the approvals and certifications was quite a mountain to climb; but Im so happy with the end result.
The development took place at Laverstoke; everything Toby needed was on hand, including his fathers support.
There were times when things were a bit tough, but he was always there to help and offer moral support.
Back to nature
All the hard work and perseverance paid off, as Tobys created a world first in that this drink has 100 per cent natural ingredients, all of them organic.
People can say a product is natural if they like, and theres no one to stop them, but most of the time theyre not natural at all if you look at the ingredients. We much prefer to use organic, its much clearer as to what it means; no pesticides or chemicals just working with nature, says Toby.
Scheckters Organic Energy is also suitable for vegetarians and its Fairtrade Certified.
Look on the side of the can and theres nothing you wont recognise; no chemicals, no colourants, I could go on. But the proof is in the tasting. Made with natural spring water with added elderberry, lemon and pomegranate juice, its very refreshing.
Since finishing the product, things have been non-stop for Toby and business partner Charles Phillips. The drink is already in 100 Waitrose stores across the country and you can also pick it up in Holland and Barrett.
For many it would be quite daunting to pitch a brand new product to such large companies, but thats where Charles comes in, admits Toby, He really fulfils a skill set that I dont have; he has a greater business brain, so together, when pitching to companies theyre a force to be reckoned with.
Try before you buy
Of course its all very well having the drink in the shops, but if its not branded and marketed then no one will notice it, this is more Tobys forte.
We have been to a lot of organic events, organised a lot of tastings and samplings and been to a lot of festivals. Its all about getting people to try it, and once they have its unanimously liked and they become fans. Further good news came when Maclaren agreed to take the drink to race weekends for the rest of the year and Tobys hoping to reach the 500,000 sales mark before the end of 2011, having just launched in South Africa. In 2012 the energy drink will also be available in America, and perhaps even in Scandinavia, Brazil, Japan and Russia. This is a huge achievement for someone still in their early 30s, but Toby seems to be taking it all in his stride.
Im just taking it one week at a time really, you cant be complacent. Were still on a knifes edge; its hard being a start up, especially at the moment. Our first year has been great and thats enough, for now.
This year has been all work and no play for Toby. He has recently moved to London, but still goes back to Laverstoke three or four times a month to see his family. As for socialising, I think I have become quite boring since the drink actually launched. I have less of a social life, and fewer friends. Those I do have complain at me and turn up at my house to drag me out. But I cant wake up with a hangover; I see it as a waste of a day. The little time I have I like to put my feet up or go to the gym.
Who knows what the future holds for this Scheckter, there must surely be plenty of spin-off, organic products just waiting to be produced?
We have a light version developed already, which contains fewer carbohydrates. We could do spin-offs, but the key is to stick with the one that works best and be the best at it. We have enough on our hands with this at the moment.
This businessman clearly has a sensible head on his shoulders.
Tobys energy drink is already winning accolades, including a Great Taste Gold 2011, it was Commended in the Soil Associations Organic Food Awards 2011 and achieved finalist status in two categories at The Natural and Organic Awards 2011.
How does it work?
Extracts from organic raw green coffee beans and organic guarana give the physical and mental endurance from caffeine, the organic gingko biloba will help your mental performance and the organic ginseng will help your body deal with stress better. Organic Fairtrade raw cane sugar helps blend the flavours and provides additional energy. Plus organic pomegranate and organic elderberry juice are known to be rich in antioxidants.