#9 – F*ck Coffee, We Eat Caffeinated Gum Now w/ Blake Settle

Blake Settle launched Rev Energy Gum — a caffeinated, packeted chewing gum — in late 2018. Since then, he has sold over 5,000 packages across 40 stores in the Austin area. But in the beginning, Settle wasn’t trying to be an entrepreneur. He just wanted to stay awake while he studied.

“I was in the PCL one night studying,” Settle said. “It was like 2 in the morning, and I’ve always been a big coffee drinker, and so I just went on a search to find some coffee. I had a midterm the next day.”

No coffee shops were open. Settle is a diabetic, so sugary energy drinks, like Monster or Red Bull, weren’t an option either. In the end, Settle chewed gum to keep himself awake.

“When I was chewing that gum, I was like, ‘what if I could put some caffeine in the gum, and just make it an energy gum, call it done?’” Settle said. “And I was like, ‘you know I’m a chemistry major, I know some people, why don’t we look into this?’ and that’s kind of where it all started.”

Settle decided to pursue his idea. He spoke to chemistry professors, read textbooks, wrote formulas and even purchased a kit to make chewing gum in his own kitchen.

“In that three week period, I just took a deep dive, tried to make myself as knowledgeable as possible on chewing gum, the history of chewing gum, how it’s made, how different versions of it are,” Settle said. “I went to the fifth floor of the library and just read every textbook I could on flavoring.”

From there, Settle reached out to dozens of confectionery manufacturers to produce his product. One company did, and after testing formulas, creating package designs and reaching out to investors, Rev Energy Gum was born.

“We actually didn’t even sell our first product on shelves until probably six months later in late August,” Settle said.

Settle said Rev Energy Gum offers a more consistent dose of caffeine than coffee, without the additional sugars of an energy drink or coffee creamer.

“It’s more of a quantified measure of caffeine,” Settle said. “Each piece we know is 100 milligrams, whereas coffee can depend on how strong the brew is, how big of the cup. There are so many different factors.”

While the gum is mint-flavored, Settle said people should not expect to chew it to enjoy the flavor of alleviate bad breath.

“Caffeine is pretty bitter in nature, but it’s roughly kind of the same as a normal gum, just not as tasty,” Settle said.

New flavors are currently in production, and Settle said he would like to someday see the product sell all across Texas. Currently, Settle said the company’s main goal is to get the product into the customers’ hands so they can try something they’ve likely never seen before.

“Just letting them have the ability to try it, and see for themselves the convenience, being able to put it in your back pocket — that’s a lot of our marketing,” Settle said.

Settle was diagnosed with type one diabetes shortly after graduating from high school. While his condition can be tough, he said his diagnosis encouraged him to treat his health and academics more responsibly, eventually leading him to fulfill a market need and start his own business.

“I believe firmly that you can sit and pout about it or be really upset, or you can use it to make you a better person and move forward,” Settle said.

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