The team at London agency Dark Horses have had a rather busy lockdown, as they’ve launched their very own sports bar, Home Run. The launch comes just as Londoners start to figure out if and how they’ll return to their offices – many will be considering running and cycling as a means of avoiding germ-spreading commuters.
Though the timing of Home Run’s release is pretty spot on as a slew of city-based workers are researching alternatives to the commute that allow them to avoid public transport, the project was in incubation far before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. “It's been in development for around 18 months,” explains Catrin Tyler, co-founder of Home Run. “We're all really keen on sport and exercise after work but were finding it hard to fuel properly for it. Biscuits, crisps and the sort of snacks we'd often reach for at our desk didn't give us the right sort of energy to work out, while a lot of the sports bars already on the market can either be high in sugar or are nutritionally designed to be eaten post-workout.”
Nonetheless, conversations about what the post-lockdown commute might look like and the challenges of re-opening offices have been front of mind as the team prepared to launch. Internally at the agency, there’s no rush, though there’s no doubt that there are those who are looking forward to the social atmosphere of the agency.
“At the current point in time, we really want to help people avoid public transport by giving them the right fuel to run or cycle home, but really our ambition goes way beyond this. As restrictions ease further we want anyone doing any sort of sport to be energised to workout after work,” says Cat. “Some of our staff have been really keen to come back to a now socially distanced office, but everyone's concerned about being able to travel safely and leave public transport as empty as possible for essential workers.”
The bar itself has been developed carefully – while its designed to energise, the team wanted to avoid an unhealthy, sugary snack which would ultimately leave people struggling through a sugar crash. They worked closely with the factory to create a recipe that relies on oats and teff flour, an ingredient usually found in traditional Ethiopean flatbread.
In her day job as an account director at Dark Horses, Catrin is used to helping other businesses build brands – but creating a brand for oneself and ‘being one’s own client’ is an illuminating experience.“It's both brilliant and challenging. It's obviously amazing to be able to develop a brand in any direction you wish, but when the opportunities are endless and the only deadlines are set by yourselves there's always a desire to keep working and improving on where you are.”
But the brand exists far beyond the bar itself. Home Run is a platform that is designed to positively help both experienced and novice runners and cyclists. To that end, the team has also launched the Home Run Commuter Router, a buddy system that pairs up newbies up with veterans to help work out the best routes and share advice for taking on the city traffic. In May, they teamed up with mental health charity CALM to host the ‘Home Run for CALM’, a virtual 10k race which challenged people to run 10k at home, and the runners were buoyed along by guest celebrities and DJs.
“We want Home Run to be a brand that helps people live well-balanced healthy lives. Energising people to exercise after work, and the mental and physical health benefits from it, is at the heart of this, but it's also why we do initiatives like The Home Run for CALM and make a donation from every bar sold to the charity,” says Catrin. “The Home Run Commuter Routers is another way of helping people achieve this balance - running or cycling on your commute lets you avoid public transport, saves you time, and gets you fit in the process. “