Nic Gorini, Kmera, Jools
Putting pearls in health drinks. It's a brilliant idea. Fun, unexpected and more interesting than downing a tedious brew of wheatgrass and algae, or whatever the latest concoction is.
The aptly names Jools drinks don't actually contain real pearls of course, (we'll leave that to Cleopatra) but are made of a flavourless, odourless 'silky kelp membrane' and filled with a vitamin-packed juice which is designed to compare and contrast with the main flavour. So you get luscious combinations like Mango Juice with Acerola Cherry pearls or Cranberry Juice and Acai pearls.
London-based Italian entrepreneurs Nic Gorini and Leonardo Laforgia, from the company Kmera, are the talent behind Jools and clearly the industry has been impressed with their idea. Jools has won 11 international awards in its first year, including Most Innovative Product at SIAL, Most Innovative Product at Launch, Drinkpreneur's Best New Beverage and Lunch! Innovation's Best Innovation Award.
Laforgia, who used to work for Bloomberg and then L'Oreal, got the idea for the pearls in Jools from Bubble Tea, a drink with a tea or milk base to which tapioca balls are added and which is very popular throughout Asia. However, Asian Bubble Tea is not exactly a health drink. It has a tendency to be very sweet, plus it usually has to be made fresh.
Laforgia was sure he could do better and set to work on the task of creating vitamin-packed pearls and adding them to juice to create a healthy and exciting drink.
In 2013 in London, Laforgia met Gorini whose background was in the creative industries and marketing and who had his own company – Spin Ventures – a venture accelerator investing in growing start ups. Gorini immediately recognised the potential of the pearl technology and the whole concept of making health drinks more enjoyable and fun. The two dynamic Italians decided to put their considerable talents together and formed their company Kmera. The first task for Gorini was to find investors to fund the development of the pearl technology for Jools drinks.
In March 2014, Ben Radomski of Business e via Italy (BEV) was hosting an event in London for the food business which Gorini attended. They got talking and Radomski loved the idea of the pearls. The relationship developed and Radomski introduced Gorini and Laforgia to BEV's network of connections - investors and high net worth individuals – including Matteo Cerri of The Family Officer group. Several meetings and tastings followed and as a result, Kmera soon found the funding they needed to take their business to the next level.
Having created Jools, Gorini and Laforgia quickly realised that the pearls could be sold on as stand-alone technology to other beverage companies. Thus you could have coffee with pearls of cream, mineral water with lemon or orange spheres even white wine with black pepper pearls!
The company is now in the growth and promotion stage, looking to partner and take this clever piece of bevtech global. A major Italian soccer player is keen to invest in the business as are several other Italian entrepreneurs.
Having begun in London, Jools has rapidly branched out from there. The drinks are already in 750 stores in the UK, Italy, Spain and Dubai in less than a year and are confident they can continue this pace or exceed it in the coming twelve months.