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Student entrepreneurs win beverage competition with cold brew iced tea product that counteracts negative caffeine side effects

A group of 16 University of Richmond student entrepreneurs will soon rally behind a product created by their classmates. Lume, a cold brew iced tea that delivers “controlled energy”, emerged as the winner of the second annual Bench Top Innovations Great Bake Off.

Trevor Dickerson

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A group of 16 University of Richmond student entrepreneurs will soon rally behind a product created by their classmates. Lume, a cold brew iced tea that delivers “controlled energy”, emerged as the winner of the second annual Bench Top Innovations Great Bake Off.

“Bench Top Innovations: Creating & Commercializing Culinary Magic,” is a year-long program where students ideate, develop, and commercialize an innovative and practical food or beverage product. The course is a partnership between UR’s Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, the Robins School of Business, the Jepson School of Leadership, and the School of Arts and Sciences.

Students worked in teams and presented their products to a panel of judges that included University leaders and food and beverage investors during a pitch competition last month. At stake — funding for further product development and becoming the sole focus of the class. Next semester, all 16 students will work as one unit to launch and scale their business around the winning product, Lume.

“Lume is a cold brew black iced tea with added caffeine and L-Theanine, a natural amino acid,” said junior Grace Clarke, the drink’s co-creator. They will offer the tea in a variety of flavors, including super berry.

In their pitch, the Lume team highlighted the use of L-Theanine, which occurs naturally in plants, as a component of their product to boost energy and counteract the typical side effects of caffeine, like jitters or trouble sleeping. They have labeled this “controlled energy.”

“We learned that caffeine and L-Theanine were a great balance,” said Clarke.

“The judges chose Lume because they thought it was the product most ready to hit the shelves,” said marketing lecturer Joel Mier, who co-teaches the course with Executive-in-Residence and Health Warrior co-founder Shane Emmett.

This year’s other ideas included several non-dairy options and an orange juice/protein powder mix.

The year-long CIE Benchtop Innovation program is designed to emphasize creativity, inspire innovation, and spark entrepreneurship. The winner of the inaugural competition last year was Absurd Snacks, a roasted bean-based trail mix designed for people with food allergies, which is now available online and at many retailers.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.