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Collin County Brothers Upend the Energy Drink Industry with Nexus, Raising the Nutritional Bar

Blane and Shawn Givens, founders of Nexus, learned the importance of a healthy diet with the help of the next door neighbor's fresh garden. Their mother would go over and clip fresh lettuce and tomatoes, all organic and healthy, for their meals.
Courtesy of the Givens brothers

Blane and Shawn Givens, founders of Nexus, learned the importance of a healthy diet with the help of the next door neighbor's fresh garden. Their mother would go over and clip fresh lettuce and tomatoes, all organic and healthy, for their meals. 

Shawn, 40, who now lives in Plano, says it was in the taekwondo dojo and the garden that they both learned to look at the world differently. This outlook led Shawn to co-build a coast to coast commercial real estate finance firm that they sold to the largest commercial real estate services company in the world in 2017.  "I have founded other companies," he says, "and in my business experience and life, I have learned to look at the world through a different lens. Taekwondo played a part in that but business did too."

As fitness gurus, they were familiar with the 50-year-old energy drink market. “Our bodies have to perform optimally,” says Blane, a 28-year-old Frisco resident. “There is a lot of junk on the [energy drink] market that claims to be challenging the norms and they really aren't.”

Blane, who majored in biochemistry and biotechnology nutrition, saw how they could improve the energy drink market by providing health benefits beyond the essential ingredients. 

The Nexus idea sent the Givens brothers on a five-year journey researching nutrients and functional ingredients. They partnered with biotechnologists, geneticists, registered dieticians, and sports medicine experts to understand what was missing from the energy drink market. 

“We took a holistic approach of what is missing in a diet of high performance people,” Blane says, "instead of relying on the sensation of energy that caffeine produces, tap into the natural metabolic process of the body and use our drink to channel that energy production. We’re trying to help the body use the metabolic pathways with good vitamins.”

“Caffeine doesn’t produce energy,” Shawn adds. “The way I’ve likened the energy industry is like poker. ‘We see your 200 milligrams [of caffeine] and raise it.’ Instead, we broke it down to its foundation.” 

Breaking the formula for energy drinks down to its foundation gave birth to Nexus energy drink, a product that the brothers call the “next generation of energy drink,” offering a healthier experience that “raises the bar for what a functional energy drink can be.” 

With the help of an industry-renowned flavorist and one of the nation’s largest beverage manufacturers, they created a blend that they claim is two to five times higher in nutrients than most other energy drinks on the market. It’s also available in five flavors—cherry limeade, juicy watermelon, lemon coconut, orange creamsicle, and pineapple lychee—at 190 stores such as Brookshires and Family Health Market in Frisco and possibly 4,000 more locations.

“The market demands it,” Blane says. “You can’t keep putting out a better version of Red Bull.”

“Nexus,” Shawn explains, “is the connection between two things: what you put into your body and how it performs.” 

It’s a belief that they highlight on Nexus energy drink’s website

“It has taken nature millions of years to create the perfect ingredients. We spent thousands of hours combining them into powerful formulas. In just minutes you’ll feel the benefits and fuel your cells!”

The last decade alone has given rise to a multi-billion dollar energy drink market. More people than ever before consume energy drinks to boost athletic performance whether it is on the field or in the gym or simply to stay awake during a long work shift.  

The rise in energy drink popularity has also stirred controversy with increasing reports of energy drink toxicities that affect heart rhythm and cause central nervous system abnormalities like atrial fibrillation and seizures, according to a Nov. 2017 report “Effects of Energy Drinks on the Cardiovascular System” in the World Journal of Cardiology.

In the Nov. 2017 study, researchers found that the potential for danger lies in the strong concentration of caffeine. In the vast number of cases, they concluded that energy drink toxicity was due to excessive consumption in a short period of time or in combination with other stimulants such as alcohol. They discovered that the research related to caffeine, taurine, and L-carnitine “have a neutral or positive health effect unlike previously thought.” 

Each blend of Nexus energy drink focuses on a different area of need. For example, the brothers specifically formulated Juicy Watermelon, known as “REVIVE,” to help restore your immune system, joints, energy levels, and adrenal glands. There is no caffeine in the drink. Ingredients include L-glutathione to lessen stress and improve energy levels, elderberry powder and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) to promote overall recovery after a hard workout, and L-Theanine to help calm and improve mood and focus.

The Cherry Limeade flavor, known as ENERGIZE, uses natural caffeine derived from green coffee extract, electrolytes, metabolic boosters, and prebiotics to enhance performance and strengthen the immune system. They claim it also improves the body’s natural bacteria-fighting response. 

Of course, none of the statements about the ingredients found on Nexus’s website has been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. But the brothers claim their energy drink recipes work. 

“Go grab one of our cans and compare the ingredients,” Shawn says. “Nexus has as much as six to eight times more functionals than several drinks in the segment with a few flavors having as many as 3,200 milligrams of vitamins and proprietary blends.  Masking all of those vitamins and nutrients with great flavors, while being mindful of the healthy lifestyle the product represents, is no easy feat and we spent 10 months and over 100 iterations of flavors, to get it right."

Nexus energy drink
Courtesy of Nexus

Nexus energy drink cans are easy to spot and a work of holographic art (if you’re into can art).

Shawn says they spent years researching the ingredients and a significant investment to create an energy drink that sets a new bar for energy drink brands to reach. “Why make something half-way or just try and be incrementally better than what is already out there?Consumers demand better and you are what you drink, so why put anything but the very best in your body?”

Blane points out that they have developed a product that “challenges the status quo nutritionally, are aesthetically unlike anything else, and give you a better connection to your health. 

“We set out to positively redefine the energy drink category.”