As life and work have become faster-paced, we require more energy during the day to increase our pleasure and productively. While older generations rely on coffee or 5-Hour-Energy for a caffeine boost, millennials seek something that’s more nutritious and tasty. Matt Czarnecki, 24, André Monteiro, 24, and Bennett Byerley, 23, filled the absence of a healthy alternative with Verb Energy. Verb Energy is a energy bar startup producing delicious, beneficial energy bars to its customers. The Boston-based company has raised more than $5 million from Global Founders Capital, with Nebari Ventures, Great Oaks, Supernode Ventures, FJ Labs, Kevin Ryan, and other strategic angel investors participating.
Frederick Daso: How did you come to realize that a coffee and a granola bar were inadequate for people’s energy needs for getting through the day?
Bennett Byerley: We had each been personally dissatisfied with the energy options around us. The idea for Verb came to Matt one night when he walked out of a coffee shop with a coffee and a granola bar. He felt like he spent too much money on an energy + hunger fix that just left him feeling jittery and preparing for an imminent crash. Together, the three of us decided to set out to make an energy product that would make you feel incredible with a long-lasting, jitter-free energy boost that you could get in a healthy, delicious, convenient, and affordable way.
Daso: Why do you think millennials are more health-conscious than previous generations? What drives their affinity for products that claim to boost their health?
Byerley: As we learn more about how proper nutrition and health are closely linked, more and more people come to choose healthier options for themselves and their families. I don’t think it’s necessarily a generation divide, I think we are gaining greater awareness as a society about the health effects of different food and nutritional choices. That’s why Verb will always make products that people can feel great about eating every day.
Daso: What was your process for segmenting and targeting young millennial purchasers of energy bars?
Byerley: We have always done a lot of customer research. Initially, we gave Verb Bars to as many people as we could, and then we listened to their feedback and how they incorporated Verb into their daily lives. Through that process, we realized that our product resonated with certain early adopters, and we worked hard to connect with that community.
Daso: How did you discover that text commerce was the best channel to reach millennials?
Byerley: Texting is just about the friendliest way to communicate with people, aside from meeting up in person. When we were just getting started on our college campus, people texted us to order Verb Bars, and they told us over and over how they loved the customer experience of being treated like a friend. So, we decided to build out a way for us to communicate with our customers at scale over text. André, our CTO, built out our text-commerce platform from the ground up, and now we text with thousands of people every day, always striving to provide the friendliest customer experience out there. Customers send us dog pics, exchange GIFs, and tell us how they enjoy Verb Bars in their every day. That warm, friendly, and conversational customer experience is essential to who we are as a brand.
Daso: When it comes to branding, how did your customer research reflect the design and presentation of the Verb brand?
Byerley: We worked hard to craft a unique look that will bring delight to our customers and stand out in the world. We wanted to convey motion, action, and energy in our design, which is the rationale behind the unique patterns you see on our packaging.
I noticed you’ve heavily emphasized the customer service experience of your company. How did you discover that investing in improving the CX makes a difference in maintaining customer loyalty and decreasing churn over time?
We believe that Verb is all about delivering human energy in the most human way possible. Customers want to be treated like real people, which is why we text them directly. And no, it isn’t a robot, it’s a fantastic Customer Experience team on the other end full of wonderful people who work every day to bring delight to our customers. When you show your customers how much they mean to you by treating them with respect and bringing a smile to their face every time they text you, people are much more likely to become long-lasting customers who come back to your brand time and again.
Daso: What is unique about your team that allows you all to succeed in this space?
Byerley: I love working at Verb because of the wonderful people we have on our team. The energy, enthusiasm, and dedication that people bring to their work inspires me every day. We’re unique in that we put customer empathy first — everyone on the team is always thinking about how they can create more value for our customers every single day.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the startup was located in New Haven. They are located in Boston.
If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out my other work on LinkedIn and my personal website, frederickdaso.com. Follow me on Twitter @fredsoda, on Medium @fredsoda, and on Instagram @fred_soda.