There’s a new, all-natural sports drink on the market. One thing that sets it apart from the competition? It’s based out of Loudoun County, Virginia. Oh, and another thing: It was created by a 17-year-old Potomac Falls High School junior.
Alana Andrews, said high school junior, began developing the idea for SWEY when she was in elementary school. She officially launched the brand in April, and it’s now available for purchase online. SWEY is targeted toward the Gen Z crowd, hence its name—it’s an acronym for “strong, wise, energetic youth.”
It all started when Andrews was eight years old and diagnosed as pre-diabetic. She wanted to get her health under control, so she started eating better, playing tennis, and running track. After exercising, she wanted to rehydrate with a sports drink, but realized most of them were full of artificial ingredients and sugar.
An idea was hatched: What if Andrews could create a pre- and post-workout drink targeted to young athletes that wasn’t full of junk?
She started developing the product in earnest at age 13, when she joined the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s Young Entrepreneurs Academy. “Their motto is ‘Come in as a student, and leave as a CEO,’ ” says Andrews. “So they really taught me how to create a business from scratch, create a business plan, and take this idea and this passion I had and put it into a bottle.”
The first step in launching her business? Turn to Google, of course. Andrews researched what elements are essential to helping teen athletes recover, then started sourcing ingredients containing things like vitamins A, B, and E and magnesium, potassium, and zinc. The first iteration of SWEY was a powder, which she made herself in her parents’ kitchen. She eventually partnered with a lab in Kentucky, and several taste-tests later, the SWEY recipe was perfected. Instead of using sugar like some other sports beverages do, SWEY relies on monk fruit, stevia, and erythritol as sweeteners. The drink comes in three flavors: Citrus Sizzle, Major Kiwi, and Tropicalada, and it costs $16 for a six-pack.
Andrews held taste tests of the original powder with her then-fellow eighth graders, and eventually started doing deep dives into what her Gen Z contemporaries prioritize as consumers. She discovered that other young people her age are willing to pay a premium for products that are natural and better for their health. “We grew up in a generation where we have smartphones, we have the internet at our fingertips,” says Andrews. “So we’re able to find out in a matter of seconds what’s good for us and what’s bad for us, and what we should have in our bodies and what we should probably keep out.”
Another priority for Gen Z consumers: inclusivity. Andrews made sure to incorporate this into SWEY’S mission, branding it as a recovery drink not just for traditional athletes, but also for STEM students or young artists, aka “anyone who puts in hard work toward their goal.”
Andrews was able to get SWEY off the ground thanks to an investment from her parents, as well as another investment by her chief business officer and mentor Mary Beth Fraser, whom she met at a business conference. She’s raised additional funds via crowdsourcing campaigns, and is now in the process of getting into venture capital and angel investing.
That’s a lot, but Andrews isn’t busy with just SWEY. She also founded the So Positive Initiative her freshman year, a group that hosts assemblies at local elementary schools to help kids with self-confidence. And she’s written several books on topics such as goal-setting and time management.
Andrews will be taking a prescriptive analytics class at U-Penn’s Wharton School this summer as part of its pre-baccalaureate program, and she plans to apply there early decision for college. Post-degree, she wants to stick with entrepreneurship and eventually launch her own tech company.
So, yeah, Andrews is really busy, but she says when she starts to feel overwhelmed, she brings herself back to core mission: to help other young people build a healthier lifestyle, be it physically or mentally.