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Lixir Tonic

An ambitious start-up challenges the soft drinks industry

Published on: 17 May 2018

An enterprising duo of Newcastle University graduates have set out to refresh the growing beverage market with the launch of a new brand of tonic water.

An enterprising duo of Newcastle University graduates have set out to refresh the growing beverage market with the launch of a new brand of tonic water.  

Lixir Tonic founders Matt Mahatme and Jordan Palmer have developed a range of five tonics – Blood Orange & Cinnamon, Rhubarb & Ginger, Elderflower & Lemon as well as the Classic Indian and a Refreshingly Light tonic water. The duo are positioning Lixir as tonics that can be paired with a variety of spirits – whiskey, vodka, gin and rum – as well as being enjoyed on their own.

And now Matt and Jordan have given the green light to the first production run after smashing their crowdfunding target, raising over £16,000 to help them take Lixir to the UK market. The Lixir range will be launched at the Gin Discovery Event at Fenwick, Newcastle on Friday 18 May. 

(l-r): Matt Mahatme, Jackie Wade and Jordan Palmer.

A growing market

Matt said: “We noticed the lack of variety of mixers in supermarkets, while there are hundreds of spirits available. The segment for mixers has been growing steadily, but is dominated by few major players, so Jordan and I came up with the idea to explore the market. Our research showed that the market growth has been driven by tonic waters. The big surprise for us was to find out that the industry is rising in value, but the volumes are going down, as people are choosing to spend more    on high-quality drinks and innovative flavours, while drinking less.

“Since our Crowdfunder campaign finished we’ve been busy gearing up for our launch. The great response we had for the campaign and the various businesses that have approached us with interest about the brand has really given us a lot on confidence about launching.

“It’s been over 16 months since Matt and I first spoke about bringing out a range of flavoured tonic waters and we’re so excited to see this idea go in to production this week. We’re sampling at Fenwick food hall this Friday at their Gin Discovery event and are in talks with various bars across the North-East about new listings so keep an eye out for Lixir Tonic this summer.”

The graduate entrepreneurs have been backed by and partnered with established companies that have bought into their brand and concept, including The Lakes Distillery, Slingsby Gin, Burleighs Gin, Newcastle Gin and Westerhall Rum.

Jordan added: “The surge in gin consumption has allowed many new players to enter the market. This research informed our idea and we took it to industry consultants who really liked our concept and helped us set out a plan of action.

“We asked ourselves ‘how can we be different?’ and the aspect that sets us apart from anyone else is the versatility of our product. Its capabilities of being a mixer, but also its quality as a stand-alone drink. We also emphasise the flavours of our tonics, while established brands focus on traditional and streamlined varieties. The flavours and ingredients of our tonics also make them suitable for mixing with alcoholic beverages other than just gin.”    

Support for student and graduate entrepreneurs

The young entrepreneurs were given guidance and support from START UP, Newcastle University’s support for students and recent graduates looking to become self-employed and start new businesses. As part of this support the duo received a £3,000 START UP grant provided through the University’s partnership with Santander Universities. , This helped them develop the Lixir branding and the crowdfunding video pitch, all of which resulted in them winning the Best New Business prize at the University’s recent START UP Awards.

The launch of Lixir follows on from the latest The Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey (HEBCIS) data which places Newcastle University in the top 5 in the UK for graduate entrepreneurship, based on the turnover of businesses supported by the University, and positioning it as the best performing research-intensive university in the north. The survey also shows that the start-ups Newcastle University creates are the most investible university supported businesses in the North East having raised over £9m in external investment between them.

Jackie Wade, Newcastle University Business Adviser, said: “It’s been a real pleasure working with two inspirational graduate entrepreneurs, who have shown real passion and tenacity in turning their business idea into an exciting new tonic product range. We’re delighted that another of our Newcastle University start-ups is effectively using innovative crowdfunding platforms to raise vital early stage funding for their business and look forward to seeing Lixir Tonic on our Newcastle bar shelves real soon.”

Matt and Jordan are childhood friends, but went to different schools in East Anglia, before an unexpected reunion on their first day at Newcastle University. Matt is a Biology graduate, while Jordan gained a degree in Geography, with both graduating in 2015.

Before launching Lixir, the graduates worked in corporate roles for alcoholic beverage companies representing brands such as Hendricks and Guinness. 


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