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Evolution in Packaging - Part 1

by Ian Muir McNally |

By Ian Muir McNally

I had absolutely no idea how to package Muir Energy when I first started.

My first batches were made in colorful silicone mixing cups I bought at a local kitchen store. Using a tiny scale and small spoon, I’d measure out my ingredients into one of these cups and stir stir like crazy until the ingredients coalesced into a viscous gel.

If the resulting mixture induced a gag reflex, I’d scrap the formulation and move on to the next flavor idea. If it was “almost good”, I’d tinker with the ingredients to see if I could steer “almost good” into “great” (Side note: this is another reason why MUIR uses so few ingredients - it makes honing a formulation a lot easier). Great formulations are, well, great. But I knew great wasn’t good enough - they had to be “outstanding”. So, I’d tinker and taste, again and again, until I was confident others would agree.

Then I encountered my first serious roadblock: how do I package my viscous gel so that others could taste it?

As I mulled this question, and eager for initial feedback, I decided to invite friends and family over to my house, and quickly whip up a serving for them to taste. Then, I’d transfer my viscous gel into a small glass Tupperware and hunt for potential tasters at local coffee houses.

But how to get my target customers, i.e. athletes, to try my new creations?

Well, my fist pouches were made using a FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer. I’d heat seal two sides of a 2x2” square sheet of sealing paper, use a butter knife to wedge my viscous gel inside, then heat seal the remaining sides. The final result was humbling to say the least!! I had to instruct my tasters to use scissors to cut a corner of the pouches so they could squeeze the product into their mouths. Here’s what those pouches looked like:

Enough people liked MUIR after my initial round of testing that I was encouraged to continue. Finding a better packaging solution was clearly one of my next hurdles. If I had had a lot of money, or wanted to partner with somebody with a lot of money, I would have outsourced this problem (i.e. use a co-packer - my views on co-packers will be shared in a separate blog). But since I wasn’t the former and averse to the latter, I had to find another way.

After countless Google searches and tens of hours talking with packaging experts from all over the country (thanks to all of you who patiently listened to me and steered me forward), I found the right packaging solution to advance MUIR to the next step. This I will describe in my next blog post.

 

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Ian Muir McNally, founder of Muir Energy, is responsible for harnessing the remarkable talent surrounding him, aligning the collective energy with the Muir Energy ethos, and steering Muir Energy into the market place. A relentless out-of-the-box thinker, some of his best, most unusual, ideas come to him while hiking, running, swimming or walking his dog, Gilbert.

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