By Alex Dixon
The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.
When Tatiana Birgisson began brewing highly caffeinated teas in her dorm room at Duke University, she didn’t intend to start a business.
But after she needed an entrepreneurial idea for school, she decided to explore bottling and selling her beverages under the name Mati Energy.
Now, just a few years later, 25-year-old Birgisson will be the first consumer product entrepreneur to pitch at Google Demo Day in California Thursday, April 2 with the goal of raising several million dollars.
“(Mati) was a really for a personal source of healthy caffeine,” she said. “I never expected this to turn into what it’s become and I never expected to be pitching to Google.”
Birgisson, who works out of American Underground, will travel to the Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., to pitch for a panel of judges including AOL founder Steve Case.
Demo Day is an invitation-only event and Birgisson was selected to pitch from about 50 other startups at American Underground that applied in a competition.
And since all of the other companies participating are technology startups, Birgisson believes this can set Mati apart from the rest.
“It will be interesting to see how that plays out since I am so different than (the other companies) pitching,” she said.
Even though winning Demo Day doesn’t provide direct funding to startups, Birgisson said the exposure and opportunity to meet with potential investors will help immensely in her goal to raise several million dollars.
She said funding would go toward expanding production capacity and increasing Mati’s footprint through sales and marketing efforts.
Mati already has a strong footprint in the area; the drink is offered across the state and is outselling energy drink competitor Red Bull in gyms, stores and offices, Birgisson said.
And while Birgisson is focused on expanding Mati’s presence as a business, she still uses the drink as her personal source of caffeine.
“I love it as a product,” she said. “If I don’t have any with me, I’ll go into stores and buy it myself.”