iLab Team Story: Absorice

Meet one of the oldest iLab teams, Absorice. If you are in Hungary, and a lover of vegan protein bars, you may have purchased an Absorice protein bar either directly or indirectly. Absorice is the iLab startup team that makes gluten-free, lactose-free protein bars and protein powders, using rice and pea protein. In simple terms, Absorice makes tasty and healthy protein bars and protein powders.

Motivated by the desire to make wealth for themselves, the absence of tasty vegetarian and lactose-free alternatives to whey protein, and personal allergies Tamas and Marton began their own production of protein bars and powders after some unsuccessful attempts to import rice protein from Asia.

The Team

Tamas and Marton took up the challenge to begin the production of protein bars and powders after they tried several awful rice proteins from different sources. After some attempts to make their own rice and pea protein mix, they finally arrived at a product which they thought was good enough. Then, they partnered with a food engineer to improve on it and make it even better. The Absorice team has Tamas and Marton as the co-founders, and 3 other employees who are in charge of product development and quality, sales, and inventory.

Strategy

Absorice provides both B2B and B2C services. In the B2B aspect, their protein bars are bought by similar brands and sold under their labels. In the B2C aspect, the bars and powders are sold strictly under the Absorice label. 

To market their products in the B2C market, they sell through offline distributors such as health and fitness supplements shops, as well as online webshops and social media influencers. While they meet their B2B clients at fairs and expos. 

In the first 6 months of this year, they sold 5,000 bags of protein powders and 120,000 protein bars under the Absorice label. While their B2B sales recorded 300,000 protein bars within the same period. So far, their biggest achievement is the fact that they are now making profits, and they still have hairs on their heads after being able to achieve some seemingly “…improbable things” in their entrepreneurial adventure. With an EBITDA margin between 10-20%, the Absorice team is proud that despite starting the business with less than the required capital 5 years ago, they now have positive cashflow.

Brand Value

When you think of the name “Absorice,” Tamas and Marton want you to think gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan. They think that this is the right time for Absorice to exist because the competition is not yet strong in Hungary, and they happen to be one of the oldest vegan protein bars in the country. In a chat with the founders, they stated that they have no problem with catering to B2B clients while promoting their own brand to B2C customers because in their words, “when your competitor is selling, you are selling. So, it’s a win-win.” 

Funding

They raised the initial capital for Absorice from the 3Fs—friends, family and founders—and seed investment from the Hungarian venture capital fund. It took them about 9 months to get the funds together and they began operations by the end of 2014.

The iLab

“…we feel like an integral part of iLab.”

—Marton (co-founder, Absorice)

Absorice is one of the oldest iLab teams; they moved into the iLab in April 2016 shortly after it began. Since they joined the iLab, the environment has helped them to grow further, and they feel like an integral part of the iLab.