TrueStart Coffee winning the race for global success

Find out how Bristol business TrueStart Coffee has attracted international customers with its products.

The latest ‘go-to’ performance product for athletes coupled with an ambitious export strategy has seen Bristol business TrueStart Coffee attract customers from across the globe in record time.

TrueStart Performance Coffee is the only coffee in the world designed specifically for use in sport.

The company, which launched just two years ago, has already built up a community of devotees worldwide; is exporting to eleven different countries and has its sights set on a number of new overseas markets in the coming months.

The inspiration for TrueStart came from the co-founders, husband and wife team Helena and Simon Hills, and their own experiences of using coffee to boost their training sessions in the lead up to an IronMan triathlon.

The pair also noticed that their fellow athletes were increasingly keen to find alternatives to the many sugary and synthetic energy products on the market, so they set out to create a product that brought together the benefits of regulated, natural caffeine and coffee.

The business grew quickly and the launch of the new TrueStart Hero caffeine bar in early 2017 caused an upsurge in the already growing number of enquiries coming from customers overseas, so the couple realised that they needed some help with their export strategy.

“We’ve always been very strategic in our approach to the business,” said Helena “but the speed with which we were receiving orders and enquiries from overseas threw us a little and we began to feel like we needed some guidance.

“It was around this time that our Sales Director, Steve Thomas went along to an event for exporters led by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and suggested that would be a good place to start.”

DIT helps thousands of small businesses every year start out on the route to export. Companies interested in breaking into overseas markets and taking advantage of the global appetite for UK goods and services can visit the new online trade hub,, part of the Government’s Exporting is GREAT initiative.

DIT offers businesses tailored support and advice on how to start exporting or increase the amount of products and services sold overseas via a network of International Trade Advisers and its digital hub

Helena continued: “Working with DIT has helped to steer us in the right direction, providing us with information on dealing with certain markets and pointing out common pitfalls.

“They also appreciate how important our brand is to us, and understand our desire to keep a close eye on how our products are represented in different markets. They’ve supported and guided us as we’ve developed an export strategy that helps us find the right international partners and then enable them to recreate the approach we have taken here, but in their own markets. It’s early days it’s an approach that is working really well.”

As well as continuing to sell directly to customers across the world via its website, TrueStart now exports products to Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Malta and even Greenland via a team of carefully selected distributors. 

The team is now focusing on building links with Australia, Japan and the US as well as other European markets including France and Italy.

Truestart Coffee have also participated on the Exporting Essentials support scheme under the Export for Growth programme delivered by Business West and funded by the Department for International Trade and European Regional Development Fund. This programme has been designed to help businesses with all aspects of their exporting journey. Truestart have fully utilised the programme, from market research into the triathlete and sports supplement industry in the USA, to attending the FoodEx Meet the Buyer event for China.

Helena concludes: “At the moment we have a first mover advantage, and so it’s really important we act quickly to make the most of the attention that TrueStart is attracting from across the world. DIT and Business West continue to be an invaluable support and we’re looking forward to working with them as we grow the business and the brand.”

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