raise a glass
Houston hangover pill startup seen on Shark Tank toasts a new direction
When Brooks Powell's Houston-based startup got passed over by the investors on Shark Tank last year, he didn't let it deter him. Instead, the Houston entrepreneur buckled down and started seeking investments off the screen.
It paid off, and Cheers (née Thrive+) recently closed a $2.1 million seed round. The round was lead by NextView Ventures, which has the likes of TaskRabbit, threadUP, and Letgo among its portfolio.
With the new investment, Brooks says the company is rebranding from Thrive, its original moniker, to Cheers.
"Thrive+ doesn't really say anything about what we did or who we are about," Powell says. "We knew we needed something fitting for the alcohol industry but at the same time has the connotation of fun, responsibility, and health."
The process has been daunting, but worth it, Powell says, citing companies like Ring, which changed its company name from Doorbot.
"It would be hard to imagine Amazon buying a company named Doorbot," Powell says.
It's worth noting that Doorbot rebranded also following a similar rejection on Shark Tank.
Once Cheers had its new name, Powell began the process of the transition — relabeling bottles, redoing marketing materials, etc. There's still a long road ahead for the rebranding, but Powell says he wasn't going to drag his feet, since the change would just become more expensive and more challenging. Ring, for instance, had to pay $1 million for its new domain name.
"We wanted to become Cheers as soon as possible, because it would only become harder as time went on," he says.
From student to CEO
Cheers' formula isn't new. The key ingredient, Dihydromyricetin, a natural extract — like caffeine to coffee, which made the FDA process smooth sailing. DHM started being identified as an anti-alcohol treatment in 2012 following experiments on the effects on rats.
Around that time, Powell was a sophomore at Princeton University, and he came across the science surrounding DHM and knew if he could harness the natural extract for commercial use, it'd change the game of hangover health.
"I started working with some of my professors and asking them if it was safe and would it be effective," Powell says.
For more on Cheers and its growth to new markets and what's next, continue reading on InnovationMap.