Since launch in 2017 tiny start-up Vive have achieved the rather amazing feat of successfully introducing new Protein Bars and Protein Powders to a very crowded market. Credit to their bars and powders being good and different enough to secure a place in the hearts of us demanding and spoiled for choice consumers!
I reckon that at least one reason for success is that Vive Bars have some genuinely new and gorgeous flavors. I was delightfully surprised by their zesty Lemon Burst flavored bar and compared their Peanut Butter & Jelly to a beloved candy bar (Cherry Ripe) from my childhood in Australia. Spotting a market gap Vive also now have a range of sweetener-free vegan protein powders. For folks wishing to add their own flavors and avoid both added sugars and artificial sweeteners these are a very welcome option.
In October 2018 Vive completely revamped and relaunched their Protein Bar range. The new bars are, without doubt, the most lovely gluten free and vegan protein bars I have ever tasted and I have tasted them all! Check out my Vive Bar Taste Test Review and Best Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars for evidence.
I just love learning a bit about how food I love and food brands I admire happen. What is the magic behind the scenes? Who are the wizards? Read on for an interview with the Vive co-founders. For the best experience, read whilst slowly savouring your favourite Vive Bar.
Interview with Vive
Ishak and Louis are the co-founders of Vive. They share a fascinating About Us backstory and regularly post about their experience of growing their food business within “Life at a London Start Up” blog posts.
Benjamin. Protein rich snack bars have enormously transformed over the last 10 years or so. They used to be brick like objects or stuffed full of a crazy list of unrecognizable ingredients or both! What are the qualities of a really great bar today?
Ishak. Well that really depends on who the target consumer is. The market for stale, whey-filled bricks with unrecognizable ingredients is still very much alive and thriving with the hardcore gym goers. Our bar, however, is aimed at the more casual, active and healthy individuals.
Over the last 5 years or so, a new market was formed for solely natural, healthy snacks by the Nakd bar, which you can now find in most of the places you find a Snickers bar. As customer knowledge increases with health and nutrition being at the forefront of their minds, they’re becoming much more sophisticated and as such, are expecting more from snacks. In our opinion that means a great bar can no longer be purely simple, natural ingredients but must, at the same time, have a functional use which goes further than simply filling a hunger craving.
Benjamin. Lets compare Vive to Pulsin’? The Vive startup story mentions a busy mother preparing bars in her own kitchen and two entrepreneurial friends spotting an opportunity. Pulsin’ started out with three friends preparing bars in a family kitchen in 2006 and now has an enormous product range and distribution to match. How do you think about Vive compared to Pulsin’?
Ishak. Happy to compare – everyone makes the comparison! The guys at Pulsin’ have done an incredible job and have huge success. Our products are quite similar in that they are also bars and tick a lot of the same boxes. Vegan, High Protein, Gluten Free. So how do we differ?
Firstly, on taste. This is one of the reasons I started Vive, because I was eating a lot of these bars but only because they were healthy rather than actually being tasty too! I believe Vive Bars are both. We have taste tested against all our major competitors with positive results
Secondly we differ on ingredients: We share a few of the same ingredients in the nuts and dates used, however, we decided not to use any of the sweeteners or prebiotics which are more traditional, typical protein bar ingredients that can often cause the upset stomach feeling one gets after eating a protein bar
Benjamin. The original Vive Bars are no more! Rather than add the all new and gorgeous bars into the mix original Vive Bars have given way to the the Vive 2.0 bars. Why did you make this choice? How difficult was it?
Louis. It was a very difficult decision, particularly as we know a lot of our customers were ordering them for health and dietary reasons and we really didn’t want to let them down. However, the decision was largely made for us because we invested in a new machine for the new bar and we’d have had to change the old recipe to make sure it could go through the new machine. This would have then meant different ingredients, nutritionals and packaging etc anyway. Plus, we’re so confident that the new ones are going to be big!
Benjamin. What were your key goals for the redesigned Vive Bars? Overall flavor? Lower Sugar? Inventing a ‘protein bar as delicious dessert’ sub-category?
Louis. We’re very much leading on taste on this one. One key learning we had is that although people are generally conscious about being healthier and eating healthily, nearly all people will put taste as number one. Saying this, we’ve also simultaneously managed to reduce sugars and increase fibre content which has also improved the texture. The category has slightly shifted from pure ‘health/free-from’ towards ‘better for you indulgence’ (whilst still being free-from, vegan friendly and gluten free).
Benjamin. Hazelnuts. You have hazelnuts! Why are hazelnuts so rare within protein bars? Also where are pecan nuts?
Louis. Quite simply, hazelnuts are very expensive and most bar manufacturers are very cost-sensitive. However, we really think they add great texture and a unique bite to our bars and we’re aiming for the premium end of the market anyway. Pecan nuts is another interesting idea.
Benjamin. Vive now have a protein powder range and the all new Vive Bars. If you had unlimited resources to play with and could simply launch another ‘dream’ product. What would it be?
Louis. Great question. Firstly, we’re focusing on the here and now and really making a big impact with the new bar range. We have loads of ideas for product portfolio expansions, including adaptations of the new bars, healthy peanut butter cups and an on-the-go snack savoury protein product.
Benjamin. Could someone . . . is it possible . . . would be it terribly British to try dipping a Vive Bar into a cup of coffee or tea?! What is the worst that could happen?
Louis. We’ve done this. in fact I’ve done it pretty much daily since launch! They’re delicious and it just adds to the Britishness of a bar that’s made by a Scotsman, a Welsh / Irishman in a factory in England! Could you get any more British?!
Benjamin. Given a time machine, what would you time-served Vive veterans give as advice to the pre-launch versions of yourself?
Louis. Just go for it and never stop learning about your product, your market and your business! We’ve only been launched for about 16 months but we’ve learnt so much that we quite simply would not have learnt without doing it and being out there on the market. All of those learnings, from the ingredients, the positioning to the packaging are all incorporated in the new bars.
Loving the Vive!
Thanks to Ishak and Louis for taking time away from their ‘BeeVive’ HQ for this Q&A. Visit the Vive Bar Taste Test Review for more or simply go and order some of their simply delicious bars right away. Or do both!