Verb — a caffeinated energy bar designed and marketed by Yale students — officially launched on campus on March 30, a milestone for the company and its four creators, Bennett Byerley ’19, Matt Czarnecki ’18, André Monteiro ’18 and Isaac Morrier ’17.
According to Czarnecki, since Verb’s small-scale market test last semester, the company has continued its research, development and branding efforts. Since the fall, he said, the team has optimized its recipe for large-scale production, worked closely with manufacturers for large-scale production and completed an extensive rebranding, led by Morrier.
“We are the only energy bar [on the market] that has caffeine from green tea,” Byerley said. He added that while Verb is not the first energy bar to contain caffeine, it is the only product to be marketed as a caffeinated energy bar.
According to Verb’s website, Verb bars are made with eight ingredients and contain caffeine from green tea, which provides a longer-lasting energy boost than other caffeine sources. Each bar has 180 calories.
Czarnecki said that since Verb’s market test in the fall, the product has won awards that provide momentum for the company’s success: the CTNext Entrepreneurship Innovation Awards, the Dorm Room Fund and, most recently, the YEI Fellowship.
Morrier added that through interviews with customers, he gained insight into how the product has been integrated into customer’s routines.
“The more customers we spoke to, the more we realized that people weren’t using Verb just as a boost before a big athletic event but were having them every day,” Morrier said. “The customers who had these every day said that the brand felt approachable and healthy, and we wanted the packaging to evoke these values.”
Czarnecki added that the team is moving away from the “do more” branding from the previous versions of Verb and instead toward the idea of “good energy to do the things you love.”
“We wanted to create something that was approachable that they could have every day without feeling guilty about,” Czarnecki said.
Following the small-scale market test in the fall, Verb began a first round of funding with private investors before piloting its recipe with its large-scale manufacturer, giving the company the opportunity to optimize production.
From December to February, Verb began a packaging design process, working closely with its advisors. In March, the team began a first production run with its manufacturer, based on the West Coast.
“Even though we’ve received so many positive reviews on the product since Thursday, we see ourselves as never having a perfect product,” Czarnecki said. “We’re always trying to improve it in any way we can, whether through packaging or recipe or distribution channels.”
Czarnecki said that over the summer, the Verb team will be staying on campus to expand its range to multiple products and grow their online and physical presence.
Byerley emphasized the importance of customers to the brand, noting that the company’s process is evolving based on customer interactions.
“[Verb] is a clean product, both in terms of the ingredients and in terms of the design,” said Barry Nalebuff, an advisor to Verb and a professor at the Yale School of Management. “Student entrepreneurs have an advantage when designing products for their fellow classmates: they understand the market, and they’re also quite familiar with the competitive products.”
Moving forward, Verb will be launching at 14 other college campuses, including Columbia University, the University of Florida and New York University. Byerley noted that in choosing campuses to expand to, the team chose both large and small schools with “diverse student bodies who are going to do different things after college.”