Startup Hot Seat: Napkin Labs vs Warrior Tea

by / ⠀Entrepreneur Interviews / August 21, 2010

Below are two startup companies that are making big splashes in their industries. They are run by young entrepreneurs and even though they are off and running they have a lot of questions on how to move forward. Which companies model do you like best? What do you see as obstacles or opportunities? Each profile also has a handful of questions from the founders for you to answer!

Leave your feedback in the comments and lets make sure these companies get to where they need to be!

napkin labs logoWhat is the story behind your company?

While working together as brand consultants at Boulder’s Sterling-Rice Group, Warren and Riley recognized a need for more effective tools to accelerate market research and innovation processes. Thus, the idea for Napkin Labs was born.

Napkin Labs is a turn-key crowdsourcing platform that enables companies to collaborate with customers, experts, and employees to accelerate the creation and development of meaningful new products that fuel growth.

Our vision is to redefine how companies interact with consumers and experts outside of their walls.  By enabling companies to democratize their innovation processes, we believe we can make large companies more nimble, while providing experts and consumers around the world the opportunity to work together to form breakthrough new products and services.

What makes your company unique in its industry?

Key Customer Pain Points Our Platform Solves:

  • Current market research methods are too slow and costly to keep pace with rapidly shortening product life-cycles.
  • Expertise lives globally and companies struggle to find mechanisms to tap external resources, while achieving actionable outcomes quickly.
  • Innovation is plagued by high product failure rates, mostly attributed to market adoption risk and poor market research/feedback.
  • It is difficult to extract meaningful value (insights and ideas) from current social media platforms due to noise, volume of data, and IP concerns

Points of Unique Value:

  • Easily manage and curate large external communities who can instantly generate insights, ideas, and feedback.
  • Companies achieve actionable and brand focused results from open innovation through our platform’s modular work-flow.
  • As opposed to most open innovation software, which is transactional in nature (I submit a problem, user submits a solution) Napkin Labs is collaborative, enabling large groups to work together to build and refine solutions to complex problems.
  • Our platform measures user contribution and influence automatically across projects to award incentives fairly and efficiently to all of those who were involved.
  • Secure and IP protected project workspaces can be launched in minutes.
  • Napkin Labs has curated a global think tank representing 7 countries and over 20 different areas of functional expertise.  Our customers can instantly tap this community to help them solve complex problems and build innovative new products.

Future plans for the company?

We plan to further refine our platform so that is more easily scalable for large companies looking to access huge communities.

Founders and Ages:

Warren Ng, 26
Riley Gibson, 24

Help answer their questions!

Question 1: One challenge is forcing companies to break their routines and think outside of the box
Question 2: How can companies go viral?
Question 3: What are the best marketing strategies for a startup?

warrior teaWhat is the story behind your company?

The company was founded by Arthur Ebeling (25).  Ebeling was a top 6 finalist in the prestigious Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), sponsored by Mercedes Benz Financial.

Ebeling played collegiate tennis and drank tea for its naturally stimulatory properties.  He noted that tea delivered sustained energy without the crash characteristic of many energy drinks.  Further research yielded that a naturally occurring amino acid in tea, l-theanine, calms the adrenal system allowing for energy without the jitters.

Thus the idea was born for Warrior Tea, a tea based energy drink marketable to athletes and the general consumer.  Ebeling also found clinical data demonstrating that tea accelerated recovery time in athletes and reduced oxidative stress incurred from exercise.

Ebeling developed a proprietary formula to enhance the natural benefits of tea that consisted of: vitamin b complex, vitamin c, vitamin e, yerba mate and various amino acids including l-theanine.  The product is low glycemic, low calorie and serves as a healthy alternative to many of the beverages currently on the market.

Ebeling is now joined by friends and vice presidents Chris Perkins, Brent Garrett, and chief financial officer Michael Goode.

What makes your company unique in its industry?

Warrior Tea is foremost a socially responsible company. Inherent in the company culture is the understanding of the responsibility in creating a beverage item- the company is compelled to manufacture products that are honest and healthy.  The company also supports youth athletic programs in the third world and commits a case overseas for every 25 cases sold.  The company is currently in dialogue to reach a deal with NW Works to package its product; NW Works provides vocational opportunity to adults with disabilities.

Warrior Tea, the product, is unique in that it declares its own niche at the nexus of several sectors of the beverage industry, namely the ready to drink tea sector, energy drink sector and sports drink sector.  Given its branding, it resonates with demographics that have been overlooked by the tea industry.

The product is the first and only tea performance formula for athletes.  It offers a low calorie, low glycemic healthy alternative to many of the prevailing beverages on the market.

Future plans for the company?

Warrior Tea has partnered with Inc. 500 company Executive Protection Systems out of Winchester, Va.  The partnership will introduce a instant powdered form of the product to the government sector.

The company continues to expand the beverage product’s distribution nationally after signing a regional distribution deal with Mountain Dew Dr. Pepper of Charles Town, WV.  Over the next 12 months, Warrior Tea will realize an international market presence in South America and China.

The company has partnered with Edge Promotional Services (a spinoff from Executive Protection Systems) to provide solid infrastructure as the company expands.  EPS is assisting with marketing, administrative management and distribution.

The company is the official drink of the nationally televised show, Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming.  Warrior Tea co-sponsors the show with Under Armor.  The show airs on the Sportsman Channel.

Founders and Ages:

Arthur Ebeling, 25

Help answer their questions!

Question 1: Managing distribution logistics nationally
Question 2: Production logistics
Question 3: Continued market research to reflect market shifts


About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.