A specialist sports nutrition business set up by two former Newcastle United coaches is aiming for a healthy increase in its turnover after securing a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

Youth Sport Nutrition spent two years developing Pro-Teen, the world’s first fortified recovery shake specifically developed for young athletes with selective diets, before launching it in 2017.

Since then, the business, which was founded by former Newcastle United strength and conditioning coaches and Northumbria University graduates Lou Matera and Ben Jefferson, has gone on to sell well over 100,000 units and to build a number of successful partnerships with several regional sporting clubs and academic institutions.

It has now worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure the £50,000 investment, which is being used to increase its production capacity and product range, and to roll out a full digital marketing strategy which will support the business’s scale-up plans.

Pro-Teen contains a specific blend of nutrients, including protein, fats, carbohydrates and 16 essential micronutrients, and has been designed as a recovery drink or meal replacement for young athletes to enjoy after intense exercise when good quality whole foods aren’t immediately available.

It currently comes in vanilla, strawberry and milk chocolate flavours, but plans are already in place to add banana and unflavoured vegan products to the list, as well as to produce the company’s first nutritional bars.

North Tyneside-headquartered Youth Sport Nutrition already works with the likes of City of Sunderland and Durham City swimming clubs, Sunderland, Newcastle and Gateshead Colleges, and Newcastle and Northumbria Universities.

Discussions are already ongoing with a number of other professional sports clubs, sports academies and educational institutions on how Youth Sports Nutrition might be able to support their young athletes’ progress.

Lou Matera says: “Young athletes are at a greater risk of nutritional deficiencies than most people, due to their heavy training loads, busy schedules and rapid periods of growth, and our aim is to raise awareness among parents, coaches and the athletes themselves around correct nutrition.

“When we first came up with the idea for Pro-Teen, our experience with many of them was that proper nutrition was often just an afterthought, especially when their families were spending several hours every day getting their kids to and from regular training sessions.

“The products we developed provide all the vitamins and nutrients that young athletes need to keep themselves healthy and we’ve been growing steadily over the last three years as a result of their increasing popularity, with demand often outstripping our production capacity.

“Most of the marketing work we’ve done up to now has been based on direct contact at events, but our digital marketing plans will enable us to significantly increase the number of potential customers we can target, while ramping up our production capacity will allow us to meet the extra demand we’re expecting to see.

“When we were looking for an investor in the business, we wanted to keep it local and work with a North East organisation that understood where we’d come from and could see where we want to go.  The NEL team was quick to respond and helped make the investment application process go very smoothly.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The Youth Sport Nutrition team have allied nutritional and sporting knowledge with impressive business insight, and now have the opportunity to realise more of the business’s growth potential.”

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.