26. IMPOSSIBREW®

Beer with a buzz, but no hangover. IMPOSSIBREW may be alcohol-free, but its unique recipe sets it apart from the ‘well-behaved’ beverage market.

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Startups 100 2024 NOMINEE
Exceptional Founder Award Shortlisted

In recognition of the entrepreneur who has turned their own personal struggles or challenges into a force-for-good, leading the way for industry change and innovation.

Startups 100: Exceptional Founder Award

Founder: Mark Wong

Year founded: 2020
Website: impossibrew.co.uk 

As a student, IMPOSSIBREW founder Mark Wong received news that would be a hammer blow for many of us. Due to health reasons, he was told he would need to quit drinking. 

But, rather than turn to the lime & soda, he got to work shaking up the alcohol-free beer market with a product he’d be happy to drink alongside any friend with a pint in hand. Launching the brand from his Durham University bedroom, IMPOSSIBREW was born. 

“I love beer,” Mark enthuses. “I loved it so much that I started studying it professionally when I turned 18. But, when my health took a downturn, I was told to stop drinking at a mere 22.”

Missing the relaxing sensations of alcohol, he embarked on a journey to create an alternative. Collaborating with plant scientists, professors, and expert brewers, he developed an alcohol substitute he’s trademarked as the Social Blend.

Made with a proprietary blend of plant ingredients, it’s cleverly designed to mimic the relaxing effects of alcohol, but without any of the negative health consequences (yes, that includes hangovers).

As friends began expressing interest in purchasing these creations, Mark realised that there were others like him who sought a solution to the same problem.

Keen to expand the brand presence, Mark took his creation onto TV screens nationwide, entering the Dragon’s Den to pitch for investment at the start of 2022. Disappointingly, he left without a single Dragon willing to back his fledgling business. 

Undeterred, he’s since raised nearly £1m in crowdfunding, and has secured double the amount of investment that was rejected by the Dragons. Remarkably, IMPOSSIBREW is even the most followed beer brand on TikTok. 

Mark knew well there would be a barrier of scepticism to overcome for his brand to succeed.  He tackled this with personal branding based on an authentic storytelling video content approach that highlights both the science and his own startup journey.

As well as an army of backers and fans, the company has also attracted some significant strategic board advisors, including the founder of Chapel Down Group PLC and the ex-Marketing Director of Huel.

The company has won a number of awards, including GB Food and Drink Startup of the Year 2023 and GB Food and Drink Entrepreneur of the Year 2022. 

Amid falling drinking rates, there’s a healthy consumer base for such a product. The company’s target audience includes moderate drinkers aged 35-55 who enjoy beer, but not the hangovers. It’s also targeting those looking for a healthier alternative to alcohol. 

Having first come to the UK aged 13, and barely able to speak any English at the time, Mark’s disruptive ambitions towards our traditional pub culture must be admired. Next, he wants the brand to become the largest independent alcohol-free beer company, globally – and we’ll raise a glass to that.

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