DURHAM – Mati Energy, a high-profile energy drink startup founded by Tatiana Birgisson while she was a student at Duke University, is shutting down.

The news was first reported by Durham Magazine on Thursday afternoon.

The News & Observer later reported the story as well.

Mati is discounting what remains of its inventory, the magazine reported.

The N&O quoted CEO Eric Masters a ssaying most employees already have been laid off.

“We have been evaluating our options over the past weeks and months and kind of realized this is where things are headed,” he said. “We made tremendous progress in the past year turning the company around, but it is a very crowded market with a lot of new entries and deep-pocketed competitors.”

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Two years ago, Birgisson was removed as CEO of the company, setting the stage for the hiring of Masters, a drinks industry veteran.

The company noted that Birgisson was to move “toward pursuing new opportunities outside the company.”

The firm raised $5 million from investors in 2017 and embarked on a national expansion plan. Mati raised some $10 million from launch.

Birgisson won $100,000 in the second annual Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day in Silicon Valley in 2015, and landed Steve Case, founder of America Online, as an investor.

In 2013, Birgisson took home the top undergraduate prize in Duke University’s yearlong Startup Challenge, a win that helped get her healthy energy drink into cans and onto local shelves.

She’s since pitched to NC IDEA, winning one of its $50,000 grants; Soar, earning one of four coveted mentee slots; and at DukeGen events, winning advice and support from Duke graduates in the beverage industry. She’s frequently shared her story to American Underground teams at HelpFest and wooed Google to earn her spot at this year’s Demo Day.

“I don’t fit the traditional model for pitching at Google or the traditional mold for who gets an NC IDEA grant,” she says. “But I’ll have the same mentality as any sales meeting I go into – believe in yourself and that your product is of benefit to the other side.”

From Dorm Room Tea Kettle to High-Growth Beverage Brand, Resourcefulness Prevails at Mati Energy