The small, white pill initially tastes like a conventional peppermint.

But after a few seconds, a slightly bitter aftertaste settles on the tongue.

That must be the caffeine that is advertised on the package.

Two sweets would be the same as one coffee, explains the narrow black tin.

The stimulants for sucking are called "Upsters Energy" and are intended as a handy alternative to hot drinks and energy drinks.

They were developed by the Frankfurters Louis Baier and Philipp Köhler.

"Louis, forget it.

It will never taste good, ”said his flatmates in 2013, Baier recalls.

Back then, the mechanical engineering student was looking for an energy boost for morning university lectures when the coffee machine was inaccessible.

In his shared kitchen in Darmstadt, he tries different recipes for caffeine sweets, but the bitter active ingredient always dominates, he says.

Effect already after ten minutes

In the summer of 2019, Baier, who is now studying industrial engineering in Frankfurt, meets the business student Philipp Köhler on a study trip. The idea of ​​the pick-me-up pills flares up again, and in March 2020 the two will found “Upsters Energy”. But the caffeine still causes problems. To make matters worse, neither Baier nor Köhler had previously worked in food production; they worked together with various manufacturers for development, and a specialist company has now taken over production for them. “We spent the whole of 2020 in product development,” says Köhler. The two finance the start-up capital of 6000 euros from the income from other projects. Baier sells self-made mounts for watches,Köhler is the managing director of a marketing start-up for young target groups.

But why suck candy when you could just have a coffee?

One advantage is that the body absorbs the caffeine faster through the oral cavity and it takes effect after ten minutes, say the two founders.

They are always ready to hand in the thumb-sized metal can, for example when driving a car.

The sweets have been on the market since the beginning of 2021.

They are available in the start-up's internet shop and also in the first shops in Frankfurt, for example in the trendy “Yok-Yok” kiosk in the Bahnhofsviertel.

"We know exactly what makes the target group tick"

However, the founders are not alone with their product. Caffeine sweets come in a wide variety of shapes, flavors and strengths. The “Upsters” therefore rely on the “Look and Feel”, as Philipp Köhler explains. In the long term, they want to become a lifestyle brand. Among other things, a fashion collection is also being planned. The target group are mainly students and young adults. This is advertised with short, shrill videos on social networks such as TikTok and Instagram. “We know exactly what makes the target group tick,” say 27-year-old Baier and Köhler, who is one year older.

Where the entrepreneurs advertise, they also sell. "More than 99 percent" of their sweets are sold on the Internet, says Baier. The company is not yet profitable, but the two have big plans to change that. “In five years we want to be in every major European supermarket,” they say confidently. Not only are they on the lookout for an investor, but they are also busy experimenting. The second variety with a lime flavor is already in production and should go on sale in September.

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