This startup makes plant-based fight food for athletes

NØKO FOODS is a food company from France developing plant-based food products for martial artists and athletes. The startup was founded by Maxence Damarey, Olivier Dahan, Alvyn Severien, and Gaëtan Gohin, who are all part of the current cohort at the ProVeg Incubator. This is their story.

What does your startup do and what is your mission? 

Maxence: We are reshaping the nutritional regimen of future martial artists, fighters, and athletes by providing them with performance-boosting plant-based fight food. Through the NØKO brand, we are supporting the rise of a new generation of world champions who eat pro-performance, healthy, and sustainable foods.

Olivier: NØKO’s products are innovative and unique, drawing on the highly functional power of microalgae. Our product range is 100% plant-based and made in France.

Where did the idea for your company come from? 

Maxence: I am a professional boxer and engineer, and the idea came about while I was still in the amateur ranks. At the time, I struggled to find any specific foods that suited my needs. I was looking for foods that would allow me to face the harsh conditions imposed by our sport, which can be taxing and take a toll on your body.

This is how I started making my own blends. At the same time, I followed an online nutritional science course to certify my knowledge – and to make the right blends for myself. I decided it was time to give all fighters access to this game-changing nutrition!

Tell us about your team – who are you and why are you the right people for the project? 

Maxence: I’m 23 years old, and an undefeated professional boxer. I am also an IT engineer and a certified nutritional-science coach.

Olivier: I was the first French importer of the Oreo, Pepperidge Farm, and Daim brands. My TooGood brand is also the leading product in the French healthy snack segment.

Alvyn: Gaëtan and I are the cofounders of Algama Foods, an innovative company developing microalgae-based foods. We are at the core of NØKO’s innovation, since the products are developed in our labs.

Maxence: Together, we contribute a variety of experiences to build innovative and well-marketed products. To that end, we can count on one of the world’s most functional ingredients: microalgae. On top of that, our target audience is a demographic we know well – after all, we are part of it.

What are your favourite parts about building your business?

Maxence: The best moments are when we see the reaction of fighters who consume NØKO’s plant-based fight food for the first time. It is massively rewarding to see how amazed and excited they are about our products!

The NOKO Team believes in a plant-based path towards athletic achievement

What have been the main challenges you’ve faced? 

Olivier: Launching our product range on the market with the COVID-19 situation as a backdrop proved quite testing. Most gyms had to close, and, as a result, most fighters did not train during this whole period.

What is it that makes your company unique? 

Maxence: Our products are what makes NØKO different from everything else on the market. Their ingredients, their taste, as well as the benefits they provide –  are all quite unlike anything that was available before.

Why did you decide to join the ProVeg Incubator? 

Maxence: our vision is to become the world’s leading fight food company. So how could we not consider joining forces with the world’s best-known incubator for plant-based foods?

In your opinion, what do you think it takes for a startup to be successful? 

Maxence: Being ready to face any challenge. Having a fighter’s mindset – you never lose, whether you win or whether you learn. This spirit is at the heart of NØKO.

What do you hope to achieve with your company in the next 12 months?

Olivier: We intend to launch two of our products on the market. Additionally, we aim to become France’s leading fight-food brand, and launch sales Europe-wide. A further goal is beginning to penetrate the Asian market.

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