Interview with Marion Barnaby, founder of Energy One

Find out what inspired former motorsport manager for Porsche Cars GB, Marion Barnaby to launch energy drink Energy One.

Where did the idea for Energy One come from?

Clearly we can’t claim to be the original energy drink pioneers, albeit just like the category creators we have authentic Alps heritage (albeit Swiss not Austrian ties).

We are however the first power drink to look beyond the original 18-30 stomping ground and tap into more discerning millennials who want all the great restorative energy but without the lazy ‘yoof’ platitudes. Our business also encompasses a sincere strand of corporate social responsibility (see later) 

What’s the thinking behind it?

Energy drinks as a category is an incredible success story making the transition from quirky ‘fringe’ offering to ‘beverage headliner’ in the blink of an eye.

The simple, common-sense thinking behind Energy One was to create a vitamin-rich energy drink (jam-packed with B3,B5,B6 and B12) that married a growing appetite for functional drinks that go the extra distance; in this instance pairing handy vitamin boosts with addressing daily caffeine cravings.

Unlike the many swaggering, ‘in-your-face’ energy drinks that dominate this high-profile drinks arena, Energy One identifies with a more understated yet discerning demographic who aren’t motivated by abrasive brand identities and attention-seeking straplines.

From a taste perspective Energy One has a better spring water to ‘magic syrup’ balance, which means here are two energizing offerings (original and lite) that avoid the unwelcome metallic aftertaste that taints so many of its peers.    

What’s your career background?

As a past motorsport manager for Porsche Cars GB, I am probably best known for being one of the original architects of the original Carrera Cup GB (where identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars jostle for chequered flag glory) and a leading light of the World’s first all-electric production vehicle (event planning, logistics, project management, sponsorship and procurement). 

However, as an events and sponsorship specialist I was keen to broaden my industry horizons and interests, confident that my core skills could seamlessly transfer to FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) where products come and go at breakneck speed.    

Where did the name come from?

We’ve gone down the say what you are loud and proud approach. Simplicity of thought and transparency are so under-rated. We’ll let others dabble in hype and smoke and mirrors. 

What have been your biggest marketing obstacles?

As with any prominent category there are always one or two well established ‘establishment’ brands hogging the agenda. Of course it’s only right to point out that without such posturing brands the category wouldn’t enjoy such an enviably high profile but the downside is that incumbent brands reinforce the status quo and stifle evolution, because who wants to rock a boat that one dominates?

Ambitious disruptors/discovery brands keep a category fresh and energised and are especially pertinent for an ambitious independent sector that doesn’t want to be treated as a secondary channel to the major mults. A well-crafted ‘disruptor’ brand can help the blossoming independent sector, not only find its own voice but carve out a distinct niche  

What’s been your biggest lockdown lesson?

There’s a lot more life in energy drinks! This category was a ‘Lockdown winner’ Vs more single-minded sports drinks (temporary cancellation of team sports and gym closures) and directionless soft drinks, offering clear usage occasions (re-energise..) and vibrancy at a time when life was a tad subdued and uncertain.

The very edgy nature of the energy drinks category means it’s never the sort of category that will stand still.

And your proudest moment to date?

We wanted to be more than just another energy drink, which is why we’re so proud to give back to Peter’s (co-founder) heartfelt Racing for Heroes cause.

Money from every can sold supports a ‘caring capitalism’ initiative that uses motorsport to support disabled/able-bodied ex-servicemen (women) get back to work (build pillars of self-esteem, teamwork, competitiveness …) by engaging in feel-good racing projects. 

Who’s your ideal customer?

A slightly older Millennial audience that wants a handy caffeine hit support (work alertness, pre/post gym, gaming,…..) at key times of the day to support their 100mph frenetic lifestyles.

What’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Never be daunted by category dominating competitors, even the loudest, scariest dragon has few missing scales that can be exploited.