LONDON — Meet ex-lawyer Rob Martineau, ex-private equity analyst Guy Hacking, and ex-business insights exec Tom Stancliffe. They’re three men in their early thirties who ditched corporate jobs in the City of London to pursue a passion they all share:
In 2013, the trio ran 39 marathons in 30 days — raising close to $US300,000 (£241,000) for a charity aiming to bring an end to child trafficking. The epic journey took them from Ukraine to Croatia, taking in nine countries in Eastern Europe along the way. Roughly 250 people joined them at various stages of the journey but Martineau, Hacking, and Stancliffe were the only ones to complete the whole run.
During the 1,000 mile (1,600km) run — known as Run for Love — the ex-corporates noticed that many runners, including themselves, were consuming vast quantities of synthetic supplements. And they weren’t always going down well.
“It’s common for athletes to have adverse reactions to highly synthetic stuff,” Martineau told Business Insider in Shoreditch, London. Indeed, some runners and cyclists are sick (or feel sick) when they take on certain supplements, particularly highly-refined energy gels. “It’s because our digestive system isn’t used to the density of the glucose and fructose,” added Martineau.
“We looked at what we saw on the market, and I suppose at that point we didn’t have any particular scientific background, but we didn’t like what we saw,” said Martineau. “Everything looked and felt it was full of rubbish.”
Off the back of Run for Love, the three men came up with the idea for a running supplement startup called Tribe.
Tribe ships completely natural energy and recovery supplements to the homes and offices of endurance athletes of all levels. Today, the startup has over 5,000 subscribers for its boxes, which are priced at £8.65 each and typically contain six items. Hundreds more are signing up every day, according to Hacking.
Tribe’s energy bars and trail snacks include the Cacao & Orange bar, the Banana flavoured Tribe shake, and the Infinity Banoffee bar, as well as many others. They’re delivered in neat little boxes that are branded with inspirational running quotes and contain running recipes on the inside.
Tribe’s cofounders passionately believe that their products taste significantly better than what’s offered by the likes of Lucozade and Science in Sport (SiS). Although not all of the company’s products are to everyone’s taste, Hacking admitted. “The beetroot bar is a bit divisive.”
In order to support Tribe’s growth, the founders took financial backing and support from London design studio ustwo, which created the hit “Monument Valley” iOS game. Tribe has raised a total of £800,000 in investment and it is looking to raise an additional £1.5 million to £2 million series A round this May.
But making and selling food supplements isn’t the only thing keeping Tribe’s cofounders busy.
Tribe also organises weekly runs across the UK that are organised by an army of volunteers. Last summer, it set out to hold a running festival of sorts in Oxfordshire, although the British summer didn’t cooperate for the 500 running enthusiasts that bought a £40 ticket. “It was one of the worst six hours of weather in the whole summer,” said Hacking.
Tribe’s cofounders are reverting back to their roots this summer with a mammoth endurance event that will see 1,000 runners and riders cover 2,000km (1,242 miles) from Sarajevo to London. The founders hope that the event, set to take place over a two-week period, will see an additional £1 million raised to fight human trafficking.
“We know we can make an enormous impact and have the adventure of a lifetime in the process,” said Martineau.
If you’d like to take part in the run, feel free to sign up here.