SBDC Client Spotlighted in UNF Marketing Publication Inside | SBDC UNF

SBDC Client Spotlighted in UNF Marketing Publication Inside

Student builds energy drink brand with SBDC assistance
By Matt Coleman

feb fighter energyThe long hours and taxing shifts as a sonar technician and search-and-rescue diver at Mayport Naval Station were draining. 

Coffee didn’t cut it when he needed to stay alert and focused. Neither did those sugary, massively caffeinated energy drinks. 

So, Brian Smith, a University of North Florida marketing junior, decided to create his own energy drink using dissolvable tablets made with simple ingredients and fewer additives. He’s even created an entire company — Fighter Energy — to sell the tablets online. 

“It’s an alternative for those who don’t want the normal methods of getting your caffeine — a cold cup of office coffee or stacking those energy drinks with all the sugar,” he said. 

The brand message — my world, my fight — isn’t necessarily a call to arms, Smith said. Even though the mixed martial arts community has embraced the product, Smith said the message is more about personal empowerment.

And when Smith was looking for a way to further empower his company, he turned to UNF’s Small Business Development Center.

Kevin Monahan, a certified business analyst and special projects director for the SBDC, said Smith approached him last March in the hopes of boosting his business acumen and establish his brand. 

Smith began by taking a business startup course at the SBDC and received training and business counseling from Monahan.

Even during the early stages of building his business, Monahan said Smith’s approach was far more nuanced than many other small businesses he’s helped.

“Brian didn’t come to the SBDC with an idea or a plan, he came with the finished product in a point-of-purchase box and packaging,” Monahan said. “He funded this out-of-pocket and has already put in a tremendous amount of work. That shows that he’s got a great chance for success because getting over the initial hump is what separates a lot of successful businesses from the not-so successful businesses.”

That UNF-based training — at the SBDC and in the classroom — paired with Smith’s shoe-leather business building work has helped establish Fighter Energy as an up-and-coming player in the world of effervescent supplements. 

His brand is now being sold by a number of different distributors — most notably Amazon.com. 

And UNF will continue to aid in the company’s continued growth. 

Dr. Lakshmi Goel, who teaches information systems at the Coggin College of Business, is going to work with Smith and some of her students to help develop a social media plan for Fighter Energy. 

Smith said the University-based assistance has been integral as he the learns ropes of entrepreneurship. 

“This education I’m getting at UNF will be just as important as the connections I’ve made here,” he said. “From the classroom to the SBDC, they give you everything you need to be successful and point you in the right direction. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them.”

The SBDC offers individual counseling for area business owners and entrepreneurs. The center serves 18 different counties and offers workshops and classes for participants. More information is available by contacting the SBDC at (904) 620-2476. 
 

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