by Mark Beyer
30 November 2022
A small Perth company is taking on a big US business as it vies to become a major supplier of hydration products for the sports and industry markets.
Subiaco-based eniQ was established in 2018 to target the sports market but sees even bigger opportunities supplying mining and construction companies.
Chief executive Tim Scott-Branagan said the company anticipates rapid growth after building connections with some of WA's biggest miners, including Northern Star Resources, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group.
It is moving into a highly competitive market, where major players include US company Sqwincher and local firm Aqualyte.
Mr Scott-Branagan joined the business in 2018, after its founders - a group of biochemists and athletes - had developed the formula for its supplements.
"The vision was to develop a healthier source of hydration compared to glucose tablets or sugar-based drinks such as Gatorade and Staminade," he said.
eniQ has gained traction in the sports market but in parallel started talking to big mining companies and contractors.
"When we looked more closely at that industry, we found that most people just use water or sugar-based products with artificial colours and flavours.
"And that's people working long shifts in hot temperatures.
"We were able to get in front of some senior people in these bigger organisations, in health and safety, and they were very open to locally made, safer, healthier alternatives to supply their workers.
"That's when a lightbulb went off and we saw a significant opportunity just here in Western Australia."
eniQ has raised over $3 million from investors to fund the development and expansion of the business, which has a manufacturing facility in Malaga.
"Our business over the next six months is expected to grow quite sharply," Mr Scott-Branagan said.
Its clients include SRG Global, Downer, Mammoet Australia, AngloGold Ashanti and Austral Construction.
Mammoet's executive HSEQ Ryan Binedell said the company was adopting a more holistic approach to health and safety, with a focus on helping staff with their wellbeing and readiness for work.
"Hydration is closely linked to sleep and fatigue and provides an opportunity for employers to easily assist employees' wellbeing while on rosters," Mr Binedell said.
"We have chosen eniQ as our hydration supplement because of the harsh environment our employees work in requiring sustained energy, healthier options for long shifts, larger sachets, local ownership and most importantly employee preference over other products."
Mr Scott-Branagan said most of eniQ's clients had invited him to run on-site workshops to help educate workers on hydration.
He explained that drinking water on its own does not replenish the body if people are working long periods in hot weather while sugar-based products provide just a short-term spike in energy levels.
The formulation developed by eniQ uses a mix of fast-release carbohydrates and tags it with slow-release carbohydrates to deliver a sustained boost.
The company has undertaken some qualitative testing with clients and is about to commence quantitative testing with Northern Star, to measure hydration levels.
"That will add another layer to the testing we have done," Mr Scott-Branagan said.
As well as its hydration product, eniQ has developed a recovery product that also supports muscle repair.
On the sporting front, eniQ's partners include international tennis player Alex de Minaur.
"We sent him some samples to try and he loved the story, he wanted to get involved."
It has also partnered with Rugby WA and the Western Australian Cricket Association.
WA Cricket reached out to us and said they are looking for a hydration partner," Mr Scott-Branagan said.
"That indicates the way the world has changed."
The WACA's chief operating office Justin Michael said eniQ would be the official hydration partner for the state men's and women's teams for the 2022-23 season.