A functional caffeinated iced tea, an innovative product developed by a young Turkish entrepreneur and his team, is on its way to open in the U.S. market through Silicon Valley after first being offered in the domestic market.
Istanbul Technical University (ITÜ) food engineering student and PİN Global Gıda founder Barış Konca said they offered Turkey's first functional caffeinated iced tea, which they created following a three-year research and development (R&D) process.
PİN has been qualified to go to Silicon Valley as part of Winglobal: Born Global Startups project, supported by the Istanbul Development Agency (İSTKA) and led by the Information Commercialization Center (BTM), which was established by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO) to strengthen Istanbul's entrepreneurial ecosystem and increase the city's global competitiveness and regional gravity. Konca said that they developed a functional caffeinated iced tea with a team of nine new graduates at an average age of 25 and that their belief in the product and the problem solved by the product held them together. Konca said working conditions become more demanding in the changing world. "With the development of technology, we have to spend more time in front of a computer. People work harder now but move less," he noted. "So, they need to stay fit more than ever. To meet these needs, people had to consume high-sugar and high-calorie products with various ingredients that are harmful to health. We have developed a healthy drink that will meet this need."
He explained that they faced commercial difficulties when launching the caffeinated functional iced tea. "Developing a product that was not on the market was a challenging marathon," Konca said. "The most difficult part of this process was to gain the appreciation of the consumer, while creating an innovative product and achieving product-market harmony. We were able to overcome these challenges by experimenting and thinking for weeks."
He stressed that the sugar and calorie-free beverage offers the consumer the vitality of tea in a healthy way, stressing that PİN is not an ordinary iced tea or an energy drink since it does not contain chemicals such as taurine, inositol and gluconolactone found in energy drinks. "Our drink contains two to three times more caffeine than the average iced tea. It also contains the theanine amino acid from green tea along with caffeine," Konca said. "This amino acid balances the potential side effects of caffeine, such as tension and sudden energy drop, as proven by scientific studies from over 100 independent organizations. With our product, we respond to the needs of consumers who are looking for healthy drinks and want to stay fit."
Startup's U.S. debut a dream come true
He added they realized the first sales of the product following BTM's Winglobal project, adding that they acquired a free working environment in a highly motivated office thanks to BTM and obtained valuable information from the mentors and developed their products with the program. "Our biggest dream is to open our startup to the U.S. The functional beverage industry in the United States is highly developed, and consumers are more conscious," he added. "Our product is very advantageous compared to its competitors in terms of price-performance. We believe that we will find a good place in the U.S. market. In this respect, we will receive valuable training in Silicon Valley. Of course, we will also have the opportunity to meet partners and investors in our sector."
Konca said that they have produced 40,000 bottles so far and took their place in many points countrywide. He also pointed out that there was a great demand from European countries for the beverage, adding they signed a contract with Britain to realize their first exports.
Konca pointed to a total of TL 300,000 invested in their company in three years. "We received TL 50,000 support from the Small and Medium Industry Development Organization (KOSGEB). Now our turnover is over TL 100,000. We will expand our business with new investments. We will make dollars for our country with exports," he said.
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