Consumer appetites for energy drinks has yet to wane, with Red Bull, Monster, Rock Star, Amp, Celsius, and Bang — among many others — seeing steadily rising sales. That growth continues to attract new competition; the latest coming from Yuno 由 (Yuu) 乃 (no), which grounded its chemistry in a combination of Eastern medicine and science. Grit Daily caught up with Shenkeri “Nika” Chandramohan for a deeper dive and a taste of Yuno’s impending launch.
Grit Daily: You had your own interesting adventures before YUNO. Share those.
Shenkeri Chandramohan: I had a very interesting upbringing. I enjoyed the forest – trekked and explored various places, flora and fauna, and our remarkable cultural diversity. I had the opportunity to indulge in my research of food, natural ingredients getting involved in sourcing, creating, and understanding the ingredients.
The natural resource, the multicultural nature, and the diverse nature of Malaysia gave me a fantastic opportunity to learn and gain knowledge that many wouldn’t come across. Immersing myself in our harmonious nature – the food scientist in me was preparing for the future. Hence I traveled to 75+ countries as a journalist and researcher playing the role of both a social engineer and finding a solution towards an issue that’s somewhat invisible with plain eyes. I evolved from the world of phytonutrition and psychology, which allowed me to identify the pulse of mental health to exploring sourcing and process of ingredients in each country. Learning from scientists and entrepreneurs, I had the chance to create the data points with the solution in mind.
In addition to that, I was the partnership director for an artistic startup, which gave me the understanding and pathway to build a brand this soon operated as a production company. Following that, I met the founder of “I Talk To Strangers” giving me the opportunity and mentorship to build and found a company not only with a strong mission and to create the cycle of sustainability. I led strategic partnerships and directly developed communities within corporations and K-12 schools to educate on not only how to eat healthily, but also the implication of how food affects one’s lifestyle, the standard of living, and psychological functions.
I believe that bridging cross-industry information allowing us to tackle the allows more significant issues. Currently, the UN has developed 17 SDGs to create an inventory of issues we need to address by the next decade with #Envision2030 & SDGs. Therefore, taking the first step to address the point that I can, through lasting action, gave me the urgency to build a company that highlights psychological wellness from a different perspective – a solution-oriented perspective.
GD: For the uninitiated, what’s the relationship between food and mental health?
SC: As the world seeks the data driving behind mental health and those who are affected for discovering solutions towards preventing a mental health epidemic – individuals seeking to improve their mental wellness now to mitigate this future can do much by looking toward their daily meal, snack, and drink habit and how it works with both their body + mind.
Our friends and colleagues are facing this reality today, as even managers seeing the continued suffering and the impact of this high-paced lifestyles with 40% reporting they notice their employees are “very stressed” or “extremely stressed” and 60% reporting from this, they also see more mental health and substance abuse problems. Moreover, these numbers do not include our youth, who have an even higher pre-disposition to be diagnosed with mental health, substance abuse, or personality disorder.
The unique part of the gut involved with our mental health is analyzed now. However, there’s a pathway of communication between the Gut-Brain axis, which is closely related to the ENS – enteric nervous system or Intrinsic Nervous System. By creating a pathway for the ingredients to be digested and release the right nutrition for specific purposes, we can have the choice to change how our psychological actions are by stimulating the right pathways for specific goals.
Through the lens of phytochemistry, neuroscience, and culinary art, we better merge components widely used in modern-day medicine, significant areas of modern scientific exploration, and culinary exploration to create modern functional varieties of daily snacks and drinks that seamlessly build “+ mind” into people’s routines. By merging information and looking outside the box to address this solution, gives us a step forward towards creating a sustainable future.
GD: What’s behind the Yuno name?
SC: Wow, so glad you asked! It took us a while to find a name that genuinely did capture our intention while resonating with the public. YUNO is from the Japanese language — the combination of the “Yuu” and “No” from Japanese 由 (Yuu) meaning “cause, reason” combined with 乃 (no), meaning “accordingly.”
The name YUNO represents regard towards humanity and encouragement, bringing upon a fitting name to represent our product. In the notion that if we are creating a modern energy drink, we must also find the reason we currently refresh and stimulate our minds using these drinks and what we do experience accordingly.
This core reasoning evolved and evolved through iterations into the breakdowns of YUNO’s Collections designed especially for those who enjoy YUNO to choose to achieve their desired goal at that particular moment and at the same time instinctive continue the conversation. For example, there was once during an event, a speaker that started feeling nervous, instead of using the word nervous or anxious that’s associated with a negative connotation and increasing the production of stress hormones; the person decided to “Do You Have YUNO Uplift.” Changing the dynamic of how a person can have an instinctive conversation addressing a rather tense topic from a different perspective hence enjoying the product and the experience around it.
GD: Why focus on a drink rather than a food bar or other solid?
SC: We all have had such snacks and drinks that are said to help boost you or provide you with a specific set of nutrients now and again because most of us are forced into a high paced lifestyle to survive. In an era of competition and innovation, we aim to be brighter and productive. We do this by placing a significant focus on one time solutions instead of a sustainable cycle for us and the generations to come. Hence, we focus on a beverage rather than a food or any other solid, as liquids are an excellent medium for using a world of compounds in foods that leave the caution and the nuance of the Earth’s original design to the wind. We wanted to set the record to change this.
We aimed to create a product that focuses not only on the form of delivery, but it’s efficiency. One of the most intuitive actions we take every day is the act of drinking. We enjoy beverages; we look towards making powders that turn into a beverage – it’s the most impactful and intuitive action of our living nature. We wanted to maintain that integrity and ease of consumption; hence, we choose to create a beverage.
Initially, we did start as a food service model, and we serviced terrific people doing amazing things and received the first, second, and third round of feedback with full experiences. As YUNO is a product created for the consumers with the consumers, we found the drink was the most efficient way for us to be apart of their lifestyle – instead of the other way around.
GD: How do you address lobs that you’re “just another elixir” or drink in a crowded market?
SC: Haha, many people ask that question, but when their mind firsts taste a natural energy drink, even if it’s not their cup of YUNO, they can truly experience its uniquely refreshing nature.
The startling difference between YUNO’s Superfood Energy Drinks is its division into six functions to help target the functional experiences of white-collar employees. While others push their drinks to contain compounds that push the level of extreme performance, many times we forget that the consumer’s goal is still finishing a client proposal or pushing a major update before their deadline and that the price of this push is just paid slowly and subtly from tomorrow onward.
By focusing not only on the elements of stacking or compressing the ingredients but also in the process of how the nutrition transferred and retained when we are moving at such a fast pace that we can create a sustainable lifestyle. One of our focuses on creating this product was also what are the different types of personalities that YUNO provides essential value. We realized that while there are plenty of solid foods, our beverage industry has centered on the focus of flavors and the elements of adding, by bringing a different perspective
Focusing on the elements that create the cycle of efficiency in nutritional transfer, we can modulate and create a formula that gives a neutral baseline for beverage products. The idea of using the strongest and the most potent ingredients potentially may have long term effects in terms of sustaining our anatomical structure. We aim to live long maintaining the pace; therefore, our gut and brain’s communication isn’t only vital; it has to be nurtured and cared for. Through our research and understanding of both the ingredients and the processes – we can understand the nuances of ingredients that are common but difficult to use at the same time creating a mindset of utilizing the sustenance we consume to its truest efficiency.
That’s our start, before we finalized the total ingredients, with the complete fleet of blends having over 90 ingredients, with each blend of YUNO incorporating 7+ ingredients unique to itself for uniquely targeted experiences. All spices, have its unique metabolic reaction, and by finding the right pairs for absorption and effect as seen by cultural usage and studied through phytochemistry, we can form a product that’s your unique support, in any campaign or goals you strive to accomplish!
By utilizing burgeoning research in phytochemistry and neuroscience to understand and discern critical herbs and spices shown to provide the tools for individuals, we help our consumers add “+mind” into their lifestyle through targeted change toward the gut, brain, and the gut-brain axis improving mental wellness and productivity.
GD: What is Envision 2030?
SC: #Envision2030 is the extended vision of SDGs – in support of SDDs No.3 which envisions a world, a nation, a community that is by 2030 reduces the rate of mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being. The rate of mortality of suicides is increasing day by day, with the recent report from MHA about 43mil Americans are going through mental health issues, that’s about 18% of the total population, this statistics around the world is still increasing. With the amounts of choices, access to information, and just the vast knowledge that we have at our fingertips – we fear the future. My favorite quote from Soren Kirkegaard ” the most painful state of being is thinking about the future ” I believe that the most powerful state of being is thinking about the future because it gives them hope, the motivation – to take a step forward. To leap, put in the work, learn from lessons, and strategize to create a ripple. A ripple of sustainability, and I believe the first step is creating a hopeful and solution-oriented generation.
As a founder, I believe in creating a sustainable cycle for the formation of a sustainable society. I believe the understanding of distribution and creation ROI is a path that’s tangible to educate and build trust among consumers. This trust creates an openness to share and understand various points of view, especially if we are talking about creating sustainability by 2030. Through YUNO, we saw how it created the cycle of understanding, knowledge, curiosity, and productivity – a step forward towards accomplishing a solution. They say changing the world needs to start at home, therefore creating a pocket for that eases that mindset is the key to collaboration which aligns with SDG No.17 Strengthen and revitalizes the global partnership for sustainable development.
GD: Your packaging is a notable part of your brand. What’s the thinking behind it?
SC: Our packaging is at its core is another step of utility. Our eco-friendly, single-serve 2oz packs that can be easily recycled while still being materials strong enough in a pouch that takes less gas and energy sent all around the world compared to each can, bottle, or cup. However, there’s also our YUNO that’s peeking out on them.
Packaging defines the voice of a product, the tone, and the ambiance of a company. It can be powerful; it can be joyful, it can be stressful – it can be various things according to your mission and vision. We choose the path of communication, creating a brand with a personality that’s relatable to inspire and aspire. To provide the information and insights in terms of what’s consumed and a channel to experience solutions to unique roadblocks that one might have.
YUNO’s six forms all came about as he experienced the first of spice blends, and as he tackled his unique goal and with the accomplishment, his form changed as his burden was relieved. We wanted to help people achieve goals that provide them the feeling less burdened by burgeoning issues, which led us to find goals that were genuinely human to solve. In the background of our packaging, each goal or task is a real action that a tester, a friend, or a partner used YUNO with the intention for and achieved their success and we wanted to share the aspirations to encourage others.