Two grads have put their UCSB education to use by mixing and marketing a new alcohol energy drink dubbed Catalyst.
Ryan Davies and Jeff Smith, 2001 alumni who majored in business economics, are currently involved in selling, marketing and distributing their new product, which can be purchased in packs of four for $7.99. Among several other stores located throughout California, the Study Hall bar at 6543 Pardall Road and Keg-n-Bottle, located at 915 Embarcadero Del Mar both sell the beverage.
Shortly after graduating from UCSB, Smith and Davies said they started developing the drink by experimenting with ingredients such as caffeine, taurine and L-carnitine, all of which are commonly found in energy drinks. Then, they added vodka.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” Davies said.
Davies said the idea to create and market an alcohol energy drink came from their preference for mixing alcohol with energy drinks, like Red Bull and vodka.
“We were college buddies and we consumed this kind of beverage,” Davies said.
The friends’ residence began to closely resemble a “meth lab,” Davies said, due to the amount and type of equipment required for the mixing and weighing of various ingredients. Vodka was soon discounted as an ingredient option, as it was too expensive; Davies said he and Smith wanted college students to be able to purchase the drink for a low cost.
After months of experimentation, Davies said, the ingredients for Catalyst were refined into a malt liquor and energy formula. The content of the drink is six percent alcohol.
“It looks and tastes like sake,” said Davies.
After finalizing the ingredients for Catalyst, Davies said the formula was then sent to a taste company to change the drink’s flavor. A third party bottling company packages the product, Davies said, allowing the company to focus on marketing and distributing.
Catalyst can currently be found in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Fresno, Davies said.
“We’re doing good in Fresno, and we’re looking at deals to distribute in New York,” he said.
Breaking into the alcohol beverage industry is not easy, Davies said. The new product must compete against Anheuser-Busch – the largest beer company in the world – with its two alcohol energy drinks: B-to-the-E and Tilt. Another similar drink, Sparks, also forces the pair to keep busy with marketing strategies, Davies said.
Although they are on the right track, Davies said, marketing for Catalyst is extremely expensive and drains their limited resources. To gain a strong foothold in the market, Davies said his company is hosting several giveaways of the product, to encourage consumers to go out and purchase more. So far, the tactic seems to be working.
“We have only bottled for two and a half months, but we are doing good,” he said.
More information about the drink is available at www.drinkcatalyst.com.