Food Entrepreneur LOS ANGELES — Innovating in the beverage space can be tricky, but salt-based hydration-focused company Cadence is taking a strategic approach. Co-founders Ross Mackay and George Heaton are targeting Cadence at a niche market: the active community and those seeking to enhance their hydration routines to include more sodium.

The company, which is self-funded, soft-launched in the UK in April and is now offered in the United States after building out its supply chain and testing a smaller market.

Each approximately 8.5-oz can of the electrolyte beverage features 500 mg of sodium, carbonated water, 295 mg of magnesium lactate, 190 mg of potassium chloride, lemon flavoring, lime extract, citric acid and Reb M stevia.

Mackay, former founder and chief executive officer of plant-based chicken company Daring Foods, made the jump to Cadence out of “a personal need.”

“I was operating Daring for the last several years, and I’m an active individual in my spare time,” he explained. “I’m balancing that high performance threshold, and those last years I’ve suffered from being too tired. It wasn’t until I started incorporating electrolytes into my diet that I started to feel better. I started putting salt in my drink to feel better, and that’s where this concept came about for the market.

“Working at Daring and thinking about things for my core business, (I realized) there’s hydration drinks on the market, but the ingredient list is long or the sodium is low. This was founders scratching an itch, and we felt this was an itch worth going after.”

Having run Daring Foods from April 2018 until March 2024, Mackay is tapping his business insights to guide his next entrepreneurial journey.

“I think one of the best parts of running Daring was how to build a retail business and how to build a wholesale channel,” he said. “For Cadence, it’s building a brand outside of retail (and) going narrow and deep when retail comes and really leaning into retail partnerships rather than acquiring new partnerships. I think doing that well is the first step. Also, spending a lot of time community-building, educational-building, whatever we’re doing outside of retail will be highly impactful when we do launch on the shelf. We’re taking time to build a strong community, strong economics, and a strong brand and slower with distribution this time around.”

As Cadence features a larger amount of sodium than consumers may be used to, Mackay believes targeting the right consumers is key.

“We’re delivering a very detail-oriented, tailored product, so it’s important for people to feel that we’ve optimized the focus on our formulas.

“For years we’ve been told differently — that we must limit our salt intake — and our goal is to change that narrative. We’ve seen it across a number of other brands in the space through sachet formats like in gel formats specifically for those who are running, cycling and sweating a lot. I think it’s going to take a lot of consumer education, but thankfully there’s a lot of brands who are starting to talk about sodium loss and starting to talk about the benefits of including salt in your diet.”

Cadence will first debut in running clubs, running stores, boutique hotels and premium gyms before being distributed to retailers.

“It sounds quite niche,” Mackay said. “But there’s a lot of run clubs across the country that have more than 500 people turn up on a weekly basis. We’re seeing a lot of great advantages going to a specific consumer who’s already engaged with this product.”

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