It takes an athlete to know what the perfect sports drink should be. And Fran Harris is that athlete. She was on the University of Texas basketball team that won the NCAA Championship in 1986. She was the Southwest Conference Player of the Year and was named to the SWC All-Decade Team. She won gold medals with the USA National Jones Cup Team and the USA Women’s Pan American Team. When she went pro, she was on the WNBA’s first championship team, the Houston Comets.
Fran also knows how to succeed—work hard and work smart. After retiring from basketball, she returned to the University of Texas to add an MS in Technology Commercialization to her BS and MA in Journalism. When she set her sights on bringing a better-for-you sports drink to market, she followed a well-thought-out game plan.
Electra Sports Drink Game Plan
- Hire a beverage consultant to discuss the feasibility of building a successful beverage company. Convinced she could do it, Fran forged ahead.
- Hire a CPG (consumer packaged goods) advisor and an outstanding team to assist in implementing the plan, including a food scientist, graphic designer, retail specialist and financial guru.
- She sought out, and found, the best vendors, co-packers, suppliers, and contractors to ensure that Electra would be a superior product and provide an unparalleled customer experience.
- Survey the marketplace. Fran’s years as a sales executive at Procter & Gamble taught her that market research is essential. Her research showed that the sports drink category was ripe for growth. People were open to trying a new brand and willing to switch to a drink that was healthier and tasted better.
- Formulate the product. Fran reached out to her food and beverage network for recommendations and brought on world-class formulators.
- Electra starts with electrolyte-rich organic watermelon water, coconut water concentrate, sea salt, potassium and magnesium. Then vitamins B, C and D; amino acids; antioxidants; are packed in, and the formula is sweetened with Monkfruit. As important is what is not in the formula: added sugar, artificial colors and flavoring, and preservatives.
- Enlist the opinions of focus groups—lots of focus groups to taste the formula, provide feedback and taste it again, until Electra was the best-tasting, most nutritious, all-natural drink on the market with only 60 calories per 16-ounce bottle. That’s one-third the calories of top competitors!
- The end result was three fabulous flavors: Passion Punch, Litty Lemonade and Oh Yeah, Orange.
- Create a design and packaging that properly presented Electra in all its glory—clean and modern.
- Launch Electra on April 4, 2020, at the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four in New Orleans.
That last step of the game plan remains in limbo. COVID brought it all to a screeching halt, the Final Four, the suppliers and raw materials.
Fran has never been one to sit around idle. She and her team used the time to connect with the target audience and develop additional strategic partnerships. More surveys, more networking, more tweaking of marketing strategies. And planning ahead, she conducted virtual interviews to recruit potential staff members.
Fran, never one to stop learning, also attended “YouTube U,” watching more than 100 videos on the beverage and food industries and attending BevNet Live, the premiere event for beverage brands, distributors, retailers and investors to discuss what’s next for the industry.
Fran is as diligent and energetic giving back to the community with her volunteer organization, Fran Harris Basketball, that trains basketball players from 5 to 18 years of age and their parents, coaches and officials. She also advocates for Families of Incarcerated Loved Ones, a civil rights organization that trains executives and organizations on how to support members of these families.