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Interview: working up a sweat with Precision Hydration

Precision Hydration founder Andy Blow on the bike at Sherbourne Ironman 2003

Sports nutrition and hydration specialist, Precision Hydration has built a strong following across the endurance and wider sports categories. The company was formally launched in 2011 after many years working with elite athletes and technology partners to develop a simple and effective way to help athletes understand and manage their personal hydration needs. A long list of elite triathletes use Precision Hydration for their hydration strategy, including 2x World Duathlon Champion Emma Pallant and Olympians Tim Don, Stu Hayes and Michelle Dillon.

To find out more, we spoke with Precision Hydration founder Andy Blow…

triathlonbusiness.com (TriBiz): Perhaps you can start with a background to Precision Hydration?

Andy Blow (AB): Precision Hydration came out of my own personal struggle with hydration issues during races in hot climates. I was fed up of suffering from horrendous cramps or ending up in the medical tent with what I now know was hyponatremia, so I decided to find out what I was doing wrong.

After plenty of trial and error I was introduced to a piece of kit used to diagnose cystic fibrosis in hospitals and discovered I lose 1,842mg of sodium per litre of sweat, which is twice the average. I simply wasn’t replacing what I was losing during a race; in fact I was further diluting my blood sodium levels by drinking plain water or weak electrolyte drinks. And that’s why I was suffering in hot races in particular. It turns out a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to hydration really doesn’t cut it.

So, we started Precision Hydration to help athletes personalise their hydration strategies. At first, we just offered the exercise-free Advanced Sweat Test and recommended off the shelf electrolyte products in our hydration plans. But it soon became clear that most products out there don’t cater for the significant variance in sweat sodium losses from one athlete to another, so we developed our own range of multi-strength electrolyte drinks. They range from 250mg/l to 1500mg/l (which has 3x more sodium than most electrolyte drinks you’ll have heard of).

We had a lot of initial success in the pro sports world. We work with a long list of NFL, NBA, MLB, Premier League and Aviva Premiership teams. It was actually only fairly recently that we started to focus on offering our services to individual athletes directly online. We developed our algorithm-based online sweat test and now a significant amount of our business comes from triathletes looking to maintain their performance by getting their hydration strategy right.

TriBiz: Can you also talk through the key team members and company founders?

AB: The guy who introduced me to sweat testing, a renowned heart surgeon called Dr Raj Jutley, was instrumental in the founding of PH and he’s a board member. I’m a sports scientist by trade but it’s great having that medical knowledge behind what we do.

Other than Raj and myself, there’s our Ops Director Jonny Tye, who’s a double World Silver medalist paddler. He makes sure we can keep up with growth and plays a crucial role in the development of our product range and offering.

More recently, we brought some marketing muscle on board in the form of Dave Colley and Sean O’Mahony. They’ve got a wealth of experience in growing digital businesses and that’s really how we view Precision Hydration. They’ve helped us refine our message and spread the word about the need for personalised hydration.

Precision Hydration founder Andy Blow sweating

TriBiz: What sets Precision Hydration apart from other hydration brands?

AB: Personalisation. Everyone loses a different amount of sodium in their sweat and we help athletes understand their individual hydration needs.

And we believe we’ve developed the best products to match those needs; our multi-strength electrolytes come in both zero-calorie tablet, all-natural drink mix and swallowable capsule formats.

We also pride ourselves on excellent customer service. We don’t just sell electrolyte products, we offer a hydration service. We’re always on hand to help our athletes refine their strategy, our management team still answer every hydration question (sent to hello[at]precisionhydration.com).

TriBiz: Will the Precision Hydration brand expand beyond its primary focus on hydration?

AB: Certainly not any time soon. Our sole aim at the moment is to spread the word about the need for a personalised approach to hydration.

TriBiz: How do you feel the sports nutrition market has evolved in the past 12-18 months?

AB: There’s certainly been an athlete-led push towards all-natural products. It was feedback from our community that led us to launching our all-natural range earlier this year. People are increasingly aware of what they’re putting into their bodies and, understandably, they want to minimise the consumption of anything artificial.

I also think there’s been a move to personalisation. You see it in nutrition with companies like TRIBE, DNAFIT and VITL and we’re doing it in the hydration space.

Precision Hydration sachets

TriBiz: What routes to market have you found most effective?

AB: We love meeting athletes face to face and so we attend a lot of races and trade shows. That’s how we keep a finger on the pulse of what athletes want. And there’s nothing like getting an email or call from an athlete after a race telling you that you helped them achieve their goal by helping them get their hydration right on the day.

We’re increasingly meeting many of our customers online and have found partnerships with like-minded brands really work. We’re always open to working with people who love what they do and helping athletes get their most out of their sport. Triathlonbusiness.com readers can reach out to our Marketing Director Dave Colley via dc[at]precisionhydration.com if you think there’s something interesting we could work together on.

TriBiz: Where has Precision Hydration had most success, i.e. with triathletes, runners?

AB: It’s safe to say that endurance athletes are our core audience but my background in triathlon has meant we’ve probably made more headway there than running and cycling. That’s not to say that we haven’t had success just there; we have an active community covering many sports, including golf, mixed martial arts and motorsports.

TriBiz: What are your aspirations for growing distribution geographically?

AB: Our main markets are the UK, US and Canada but we’re definitely a global company, with sales to a growing customer base in Europe and beyond. Unsurprisingly, we do well in hot places like Singapore and Australia. Of course, we want to help athletes struggling with hydration wherever they are.

TriBiz: Can you speak about any specific new markets and opportunities for your brand?

AB: We’re always working hard on improving our offering. Expect to see some big improvements to our online sweat test in the New Year.




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