Twin Tails logo and students from the course

Spider students mix up energy drink with a chill twist

March 10, 2023

Student Experience

A team of 16 University student-entrepreneurs has developed a beverage called TwinTail Brews designed to boost energy without the typical shakes and subsequent caffeine crash associated with energy drinks.

Created through UR’s year-long Bench Top Innovations program, Superberry Power Tea will be available for purchase at University Dining Services and area markets such as Ellwood Thompson’s and Libbie Market in late March.

The course is a partnership between UR's Creativity, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, the Robins School of Business, the Jepson School of Leadership, and the School of Arts and Sciences.

Students learn creative problem-solving, collaboration, and communications — all life skills they have to employ regardless of whatever they do.
headshot of Joel Mier
Joel Mier
Lecturer in marketing

The drink combines caffeine for the perk and an amino acid, L-theanine, for a calming effect in a blend of berries rich in antioxidants. It’s also low in calories and carbs (10 and 2 per 12-ounce can, respectively) with zero sugar — unlike many energy drinks.

“We wanted to redefine the energy drink and create a beverage that tasted good,” said Brendan Fowler, the group’s CEO, and a senior studying finance and entrepreneurship.

While recognizing that people enjoy drinks with caffeine, the accompanying energy high isn’t sustainable and comes with anxiety jitters and crashes, Fowler said. With the addition of the naturally occurring L-theanine, found in plants, TwinTail’s Superberry Power Tea is designed to help buyers focus while producing a calming effect to deliver balanced energy.

Vivian Shon, TwinTail’s vice president of marketing and a senior studying accounting and entrepreneurship, said the group has been hard at work, partnering with the VCU Brand center to market the drink. “Our target audience is college students and young working professionals.”

The company name, TwinTail, comes from the dual idea of stability and balance. It was inspired by the swallow-tailed kite, a raptor with two tails that glides gracefully.

The students credit the course with giving them a unique opportunity to create a product from idea to launch. “The University provided us with significant resources and support in teaching us about the spirit of innovation,” said marketing associate Danny Anderson, a senior majoring in philosophy, economics, and law with a concentration in politics. 

The program uses classroom, kitchen, and experiential learning to teach students what it’s like to be real-life entrepreneurs on an accelerated scale. Last year’s inaugural cohort created Absurd Snacks, a bean-based trail mix. 

“My partner Shane Emmett and I are beyond thrilled with the results we’ve had,” said Joel Mier, lecturer in marketing. “Students are able to grow and experience something unique, and at the end of the course, they leave better prepared to handle challenges regardless of what field they go into. They learn creative problem-solving, collaboration, and communications — all life skills they have to employ regardless of whatever they do. And in this nine-month experience, they have had to use those skills and improve them every day.”