eSports Brand Test: My Week With Soylent


eSports Brand Test: My Week With Soylent (Photo: Soylent)

eSports Brand Test: My Week With Soylent (Photo: Soylent)

Welcome to a new content feature on The Next Level. In addition to the TNL Brand Tracker and deeper analysis of Brands in eSports, I’m going to do a week long experiment with a different product and see how it could really work within eSports. This is NOT a paid endorsement or sponsored by any of the companies.

Soylent Sponsorship of Hollywood eSports (Photo: Hollywood eSports)

Soylent Sponsorship of Hollywood eSports (Photo: Hollywood eSports)

TNL Take: I love food documentaries like “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.

I love food shows that focus on the art like “Chefs Table”

I love watching food shows like Anthony Bourdain’s or basically anything Vice does with Munchies, Action Bronson and Eddie Huang.


I love everything food related yet I can’t boil water.


I’ve burned pots trying to simply boil water. I also don’t have the time nor patience to cook currently. It’s challenging to accomplish all of these three things in New York City: 01/ Eat healthy 02/ Moderate Cost /03 Limited prep time.

I then heard about Soylent — I hope you get the reference — which was basically a “meal in a drink” and offered everything I was looking for. After giving up my credit card info to hackers in the future, my order was on its way.



Consumed: 1 Total

12:45 PM: First Soylent taken for lunch. What does it taste like? A really good piece of chalk with notes of vanilla.

3:45 PM After just three hours, I’m definitely hungry. If this is a “meal replacement”, #1 didn’t do the trick. May take some time getting used to.




Consumed: 2 Total

8:00 AM For the second day’s experiment, decide to start with breakfast.

1:00 PM I realize that it’s lunchtime and after five hours, Soylent has kept me full. I decide to take another one and see if I can get through two straight “meals” with Soylent alone.

1:30 PM Ugh. A bit of nausea.

7:00 PM Outside of the nausea, two Soylent throughout the day kept me full till evening. If any sickness dissipates after the week, this is a great sign.




Consumed: 1 Total

8:00 AM I start with breakfast again and after 15 minutes, get the familiar nausea and even throw up slightly.

1:00 PM Similar to Day 2, although I did experience some nausea, the breakfast Soylent kept me full till lunch. I decide to keep it to just one today to see if too much is causing the nausea. Others have done this experiment for a full month, so it could be unique to my body chemistry.




Consumed: 1 Total

12:00 PM After putting out the usual early morning work fires, I forget to eat or drink a Soylent, so take the first one for lunch. The empty stomach may have added to the affect, but the nausea won’t go away.

6:00 PM Continue same results, a bit of nausea but I’m full. The meal replacement part has kicked in.




Consumed: 1 Total

8:00 AM I’ve the trifecta — start the day, no nausea and keeps me full enough that I almost forget to eat lunch.




Consumed: 2 Total

8:00 AM Based on yesterday’s results, I decided to double-down as the week draws to a close. I start my breakfast with a Soylent and decide regardless to have one for lunch.

1:00 PM No nausea and kept me full. Train running right on schedule and I chug bottle #2.

One interesting side effect: “missing” the act of actually eating. While Soylent keeps me full, there’s a lack of feeling you get after spending the time and consuming a meal.

You can’t change eons of evolution overnight.




Consumed: 1 Total

8:00 AM For the final day, I decide to eat two actual meals and have Soylent for lunch. The morning meal consists of fat-free Greek yogurt, organic granola and Chia seeds aka The Brooklyn Breakfast.

1:00 PM Take down the Soylent and have lost all feelings of nausea post drinking.

8:00 PM I eat a normal dinner of chicken and steamed veggies and don’t have that “missing what food tastes like” feeling when consuming just one normal meal a day.


Soylent Sponsorship of eSports Arena (Photo: eSports Arena)

Soylent Sponsorship of eSports Arena (Photo: eSports Arena)


This is such a critical point for me in Soylent’s value. I can throw one in my bag in the morning, have meetings around the city throughout the day and if I ever need a quick meal, I can simply chug the bottle on the subway.

Quick and easy.




Remember, Brooklyn is home to the $10 cup of coffee [Edit: We now have $18 coffee]. If coffee is that expensive, your farm-to-co-op, organic kale salad made by fairies is going to run you close to $20.

Depending on what package or subscription you buy, Soylent is ~$3 per meal.




This is not a 5 hour meal at The French Laundry.

There is no Amuse-bouche.

If Jon Oliver were to describe it, I would imagine he would say “Imagine a goat threw up. Then a frat boy ate the goat’s vomit. Then the frat boy threw up. And you drank his vomit. That’s what it tastes like.”

[Note: This test was done with the Original flavor. I can imagine their new Cacao and Nectar flavors will have improved on this.]


It’s palatable for me as I’m not expecting grandma’s cooking or a homemade made meal. It’s not about the taste — but the efficiency, portability and cost of what Soylent offers.

From an eSports perspective, you can easily see the application for both general usage and definitely for the professionals at events and hence Soylent smartly investing in the space.

For me, Soylent solves my bachelor-living-in-NYC-who-can’t-cook problem and now my fridge looks a lot like this.

Fridge Full of Soylent (Photo: YouTube “Life After Food”)

Fridge Full of Soylent (Photo: YouTube “Life After Food”)

My Week With: Go Cubes


Go Cubes (Photo: Nootrobox)

Go Cubes (Photo: Nootrobox)

Welcome to a new content feature on The Next Level. In addition to the TNL Brand Tracker and deeper analysis of Brands in eSports, I’m going to do a week long experiment with a different product and see how it could really work within the space. This is NOT a paid endorsement or sponsored by any of the companies.

Go Cubes Sponsorship of eSports Team Gankstars (Photo: Twitter)

Go Cubes Sponsorship of eSports Team Gankstars (Photo: Twitter)

Life is a paradox. A mirror of confusion. Case in point, I live in Brooklyn and I hate coffee.

People live for coffee here — literally. It’s a legal requirement. Brooklyn has coffee that costs $10 a cup. We have coffeeshops in barbershops because who can be bothered to go two places in the rush to get home to binge watch Netflix.

I hate coffee. I hate the taste. I hate what it does to my digestive track. I hate that people pay $10 for 1 cup of coffee that gets you 2 pints and 2 shots at a dive bar (without tipping of course — don’t forget your bartenders kids). I’m of Indian descent and you will be physically held against your will if you leave someone’s house without having coffee. My family even has a coffee plantation.

I hate coffee.

Tea never really did that much from me either so the only occasional caffeine jolt I got was from soda. Not only am I Indian; my dad is a dentist. Halloween was a blast. The first time I saw my young American friends having soda at dinner it was like they were allowed to drink whiskey. I basically did all-nighters in college with barely a can of Coke. Kids these days also use a different form of coke (Bolivia not Atlanta) and basically legal speed to knock out a few papers till the sun comes up.

Then in 1997 in my younger days, I was DJ'ng in Hamburg and was introduced to my ambrosia:

Red Bull (Photo: Red Bull)

Red Bull (Photo: Red Bull)

My mind was blown.

I loved the taste. It was carbonated and cold. But the buzz. Oh the buzz. I had never felt a buzz like that before. It was sealed. It became my Caffeine Delivery Device Du Jour. Wait, you can mix it with vodka? Red Bull and Vodka was my drink for my entire 20’s. How much have I spent on Red Bull in 20 years? We’ll get to that later.



Dosage: 2 (2 Total)

8:00 AM OK. Definitely feel the caffeine buzz and a bit more focused — is that the “nootropics”? Maybe too early to tell but off to a good start.



Dosage: 2 + 1 (3 Total)

8:00 AM I start off with same dosage as Day 1 and definitely feel an increase in energy and focus.

3:00 PM I double down and take 1 more just for kicks.

I kick out 50 emails in 5 minutes. I love this stuff.



Dosage: 2 (2 Total)

3:00 PM I decide I’m going to take today off to get baseline for a 0 dosage day.

I meet a buddy of mine for ramen as Brooklyn law requires 1 ramen meal consumed per week per household. I bring a GoCube pack along as a gift and coincidentally he had been working in “food tech” for the past year. Between food delivery services, on demand services, niche based, products, legal and health issues — we barely scratched the surface on the space. He eats 1 cube after our meal. I’m feeling a bit tired after my Miso and Pork Bone broth and decide to break the baseline rule and take 2. My friend’s reaction:

Facebook chat (Photo: Facebook)

Facebook chat (Photo: Facebook)

3:30 Holy God. Completely different reaction. It’s like I took an Ambien. The bus is running late, I grab an Uber and make it home in time to pass out.



Dosage: 1 + 1 (2 Total)

9:00 AM Based on yesterday’s reaction, I decided to start with 1.

3:00 PM 1 seems to be a bit more optimal for me than 2. 6 hours later and still going pretty strong. At times, a bit too strong. My reactions have not been consistent.

6:30 PM Still going strong. Decide to take another one.

8:00 PM Starting to feel the drop but after a good solid 8 hours.

8:30 PM Feeling 2nd kick in.

8:45PM How. I. Feel. Right. Now.

Jim Carrey Typing (Photo: Google)

Jim Carrey Typing (Photo: Google)

12:45 AM I can easily keep working.

1:30 AM Getting tired now.

4:00 AM Still up. I could probably still work but going to try and sleep.

7:00 AM I can’t sleep. I make my son breakfast, do some reading, and take him to school.

9:00 AM I push all my meetings. I finally fall asleep after being up for 24 hours.



Dosage: 0 (0 Total)

After yesterday’s craziness, I decide to take a day off. I’m obviously extremely tired throughout the day. Is this worth it for yesterday’s work volume?



Dosage: 1 + 1 + 1 (3 Total)

11:00 AM After taking yesterday off, start off the day with 1.

11:30 AM What I’m understanding that it’s not so much the normal caffeine “kick” but more “ultra focus”.

I’m watching my son’s soccer game but completing tasks at the same time: I take photos. Tweet. Check Instagram. Send email. Set haircut reminder. Talk to my son’s German soccer coach about their destruction of my beloved Brazilian’s in the World Cup. WhatsApp my Mom in India. All at the same time.

The closest comparison: ADHD medication. Maybe this is the “nootropics” affect — I have no idea. Dehydration is another factor as I’m constantly thirsty. I’m finally getting my required 8 glassed of water a day. Is that a good side effect?

12:30 PM Strange, effect almost gone. Crashing.

1:15 PM Feel up again.

2:00 PM Normal. Much, much shorter duration than yesterday at about 2 hours+.

7:30 PM Feeling tired after running errands all day and have some work to do and decide to take second even with Day 2 & 3’s craziness based on today’s shortened duration earlier.

8:00 PM Train right on schedule — 30 mins seems to be my optimal wait time. I put on some house music while cleaning the house, make the beds, empty the dishwasher, do dirty dishes, fill up dishwasher and crank through work. Before and After example of the house:

The Adderall Affect (Photo: Some Meme. Sorry)

The Adderall Affect (Photo: Some Meme. Sorry)

9:15 PM Slowing down.

9:30 PM Based on today’s duration period and the fact that I’m productive, I decide to take my third.

10:00 PM Back up on schedule.

11:00 PM Sill going well. Getting better at timing between doses.

12:00 AM Starting to crash. Based on today, 1 dose is equivalent to ~2 hours of good production. I think about taking #4, but hold off to to see how I feel tomorrow.

1:30 AM Although I crashed, I was able to do another hour of work.

3:00 AM Stupid idea to take #3. I’m exhausted but after Melatonin, Nighttime Tea, and enough acoustic versions of Radiohead, Elliot Smith, The Smiths, The XX and The Velvet Underground for a road trip mix to Bonnaroo , I force myself to go to bed.

It’s that my mind continues to run — new thoughts, ideas, work, people I should contact, read 1 of the 39 tabs I have open, and finish my 4th Spotify mix I’m working on together.

4:15 AM I get out of bed to write this. The thoughts won’t stop. I’m literally adding to a mental To Do List that will not stop. I’m writing chapters in my head. It’s not crazy thoughts — I just don’t need to do cerebellum spreadsheets on the reality of Hyperloop at this time. This is my mind right now:

My Head (Photo: Shintaro Kago)

My Head (Photo: Shintaro Kago)

Also realize that I have always been more productive in the later hours. At Zynga, my best time was from 6pm — 12am. The late night dosage may have this effect on me.



Dosage: 1 (1 Total)

10:00 AM I’ve barely slept 4 hours and I’m already awake. I feel awful but I try to make my son’s soccer game but can’t get out of bed.

I bleakly ask Siri what I have to do today and she responds: “6pm. Dad Shift. Clue Board Game and Minecraft. Location: Living Room”. Somehow luckily I have most of the day off. I do random stuff for a few hours and go crash at 1pm.

5:00 PM Even after the nap, I still feel like hell after my 2nd all nighter and strange sleep schedule over the course of the week. It’s my last day and my last GoCube so I pop it in and get ready to take a shower.

5:30 PM I should normally be more focused and alert now but I barely feel anything.

6:15 PM Still nothing. The only thing buzzing is that I’m pretty certain it was Colonel Mustard with the Lead Pipe in the Billiard Room (only those 35+ should get that reference). Here’s how I feel:

Crying (Photo: Google Images)

Crying (Photo: Google Images)

6:30PM I play #YouTubeBabysitter and let my son watch 1 hour of Minecraft videos while I go rest again.

10:00PM As I’ve missed the day and want to get some work done — and get rid of the To Do List piled up in my head — I decide to test myself and drink a Sugar Free Red Bull.

10:30PM That normal, familiar, warm rush. I have wings again. I get the energy — but not the focus that I’m looking for.

12:30AM I get done what I needed and start feeling tired right on time.




As Precise As Burning Man

I’ve never heard anyone say “My Starbucks coffee seems less caffeinated than Thursday but more so than Monday”.

Everyone’s DNA is different. Some medications are effective for some but fail for others. Some medications may work but cause increased harm in others.

It's a chemical crap shoot.

This is directly from the Nootrobox website, the parent company for GoCubes:

“Nootropics describe a broad classification of compounds with cognitive enhancing properties, with minimal side-effects, which are appropriate for long-term use.”


It’s Not Chewable Coffee. It’s An Adderall-Lite Gummy Bear

Isaac Newton figured this out in the 17th Century and no one has doubted him since then…


What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Go Cubes gives the promise of no “crash”. But even taking out the anomaly of Day 3, I did feel a relative normal caffeine crash.


The Potential Bigger Market

A quick side by side cost and dosage comparison of Red Bull and GoCubes:

Red Bull vs. Go Cubes (Chart: The Next Level)

Red Bull vs. Go Cubes (Chart: The Next Level)

So how much have I spent on Red Bull since that fateful day many, many moons ago?

Over $10,000.

You could probably double that number if you included all the RBV’s.

I would be shocked if Red Bull or other energy drink companies don’t enter this space.


And what brand category has been dominant in eSports for the past decade?

🎮 💰 🏃🏽🎮 💰 🏃🏽🎮 💰 🏃🏽🎮 💰 🏃🏽🎮 💰 🏃🏽🎮 💰 🏃🏽🎮 💰 🏃🏽🎮 💰 🏃🏽🎮 💰

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 027: Mountain Dew


TNL eSports Brand Tracker 027: Mountain Dew (Photo: Pepsi)

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 027: Mountain Dew (Photo: Pepsi)

Brand Feature Writer: James Kozachuk

TNL Take: Mountain Dew is synonymous with gaming. So much so that it can often be found being sold beside various video games at department stores and right next to the Doritos bags.

Mt. Dew Branded Xbox (Photo: Wikipedia)

Mt. Dew Branded Xbox (Photo: Wikipedia)

But then why was Mountain Dew not all-in on eSports?

Well, it might have something to do with how they were a sponsor of the failed Championship Gaming Series (CGS).

But that's starting to change and Mountain Dew is back in a big way.

Taking over sponsorship of a long-standing tournament, three well-known teams, and a few extra activations here and there. We'll tackle each of these initatives one by one.

Mountain Dew League (Photo: ESEA)

Mountain Dew League (Photo: ESEA)


ESEA has been a staple in the CounterStrike community for quite literally decades. The organization provides competitions at multiple levels of play, where placement in each of their leagues allows a team to graduate (or relegate) between their tournaments. The ESEA Proleague is comprised of the best of the best teams, but right below this league is their Premier League, a place for up-and-coming rising star types.

And that's what Mountain Dew just put their name on. The Mountain Dew League (or MDL) is essentially a rebranding of the ESEA Premier League. $125,000 in prizing on the line, multiple seasons, winners seeding directly into the ESL Proleague. There's true storylines being built here: Steve Aoke's eSports team RogueGG won the first season, and Roger Saffold's eSports team Rise Nation is the top seed in the third season.

Mountain Dew Sponsors 3 eSports Teams (Photo: Splyce)

Mountain Dew Sponsors 3 eSports Teams (Photo: Splyce)


In June, Mountain Dew announced their sponsorship of three major teams within eSports: the Team Dignitas (Philadelphia 76'ers) , Splyce (Boston Bruins via Delaware North), and SK Gaming. 

SK Gaming is among the longest-standing eSports teams in history. There's no wonder why Mountain Dew wanted to align with the brand.

Both Team Dignitas and Splyce are also aligned with pro sports teams and venues , which is a healthy add to additional partnerships.

[Edit: I'd bet that Mountain Dew will be the official Beverage Sponsor of the upcoming NBA 2K ELEAGUE]

Firstborn agency's Answer The Call digital spot for DEW x NBA

Neither of these teams have Mountain Dew affiliated athletes, unlike Team Liquid/the Wizards/Bradley Beal, Misfits/Miami Heat/Justise Windslow, or Flyquest/Bucks/Giannis Antetokounmpo.

With the amount of resources Mountain Dew has put into their previous NBA player marketing campaigns, I'd love to see something at that scale with their new eSports teams.

Esports and UFC Influencers partner with Mountain Dew and OriginPC for RIG UP! (Photo: Twitter)

Esports and UFC Influencers partner with Mountain Dew and OriginPC for RIG UP! (Photo: Twitter)

OriginPC RIG UP!

In the age when all major agencies are pushing their clients towards branded content like professionally produced Snapchat/Instagram stories, we need to be able to sell that idea within eSports.

How about a "Twitch Show?" Sure. Throw a bunch of influencers in a room for a few weeks, crosspromote your brand with another, and you've got it.

Fans of Dyrus, ZombiUnicorn, OpTicDi3seL, Christian Spicer (Comedian), and Demetrious Johnson (UFC) vote on computer parts to be installed into a computer rig to be given away at the end of the eight-week stream. 

It's apparently the formula for over a million views and ten-thousand followers on TwitchTV alone within two months.

Pepsi's Long Relationship With India Continues (Photo: Pepsico India)

Pepsi's Long Relationship With India Continues (Photo: Pepsico India)


To round out Mountain Dew's activities in eSports within the last year we have a competition for Singapore, Malaysia, and India called the "Mountain Dew Arena." 

They've also partnered up with another brand who is quickly becoming an endemic brand in the space, Arby's, with an exclusive beverage on tap, "Mountain Dew Game Fuel Citrus Cherry." 


Mountain Dew has really picked up the pace within the last year. Their work in North America/Europe is authentic and can have strong stories built around it. With a successful push, Pepsi's multiple brands are leading eSports investment and might open the floodgates for even more brands to enter the space.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 044: Coca-Cola and Battlefy

TNL ESPORTS BRAND TRACKER 044: Coca-Cola and Battlefy

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 044: Coca-Cola (Photo: Battlefy)

TNL Take: As 2016 starts to wind down thank you - Prince. Bowie. Brexit... - I was going to add Coca-Cola to my "Where Are These Brands?" List.

Just like life and timing, after I spoke at Pepsi’s eSports and Gaming Summit - the company goes on a tear.

Over the past two months, Coca-Cola has now activated across 4 different eSports/Gaming programs:

Coca-Cola and ESWC in Paris Games Week

Coca-Cola and League of Legends Movie Viewing Parties

and now the #eCopa FIFA 17 Tournament on Battlefy.

But the Battlefy partnership is the most interesting because it focuses on a what I believe will be a key piece that will be needed to build the eSports infrastructure in the future:


The #eCopa tournament not only provides a $10,000 prize pool but more importantly, a Wildcard slot in the EA FIFA 17 Ultimate Regional Final.

This is very smart and Ill show you why.

Here's how the qualifications work:

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 044: Coca-Cola (Photo: Battlefy)

Once a student wins his/her own bracket - he or she gets to represent their school at the Regionals.

Now you can start to tie it all together: eSports, Colleges and Brands.

If you need a quick primer, here's what I wrote about it in May.

The biggest question of any Ad spend across any Medium boils down basically to: 1) How many people saw it 2) How did they engage with it and 3) Do they feel better about the brand/want to buy the product.

I'd like to see the results post campaign but a few of the schools I checked didn't have a very high participation rate after the opening rounds closed.

TNL eSports Brand Tracker 44: Coca-Cola (Photo: Battlefy)

To be clear, I'm not saying this is a failure by any means - I'm saying the exact opposite.

I would guess that limited marketing was done at schools to educate the students about this opportunity. A minimal spend would have had a huge increase in ROI.

So going back to the success metrics, I hope it's not a one-and-done because it's a big open space.

It's still very early and I'm happy to see Coca-Cola continue its investment into eSports especially in the Collegiate space.

PS Although technically not eSports, Coca-Cola has also partnered with 7-11 with another FIFA 17 promotion for the usual "Buy Something, Get Something" programs that work extremely well.

Coca-Cola and EA Sports FIFA 17 Promotion (Photo: Coca-Cola)