In this episode, we’re joined by Alex Bayer, CEO and Founder of Genius Juice.
Alex walks us through his seven-year journey bringing Genius Juice to life, and then scaling it from thousands of dollars in revenue to millions.
He discusses a wide variety of subjects from his past experiences including getting on Shark Tank, and the importance of having a rock solid product.
He also talked about his success with crowdfunding campaigns, including tips on how businesses can get the most out of these strategies.
Alex also stresses the importance of surrounding yourself with a team of advisors who have expertise in different aspects of your business.
Ken: Welcome to the Physical Product Movement, a podcast by Fiddle, we share stories of the world’s most ambitious and exciting physical product brands to help you capitalize on the monumental change in how, why and where consumers buy. I’m your host, Ken Ojuka.
In this episode, I speak with Alex Bayer, Founder and CEO of Genius Juice. An organic coconut smoothie beverage company that prides itself on making products with two simple ingredients, just organic coconut water and organic coconut meat. Alex tells a story of his seven-year journey, bringing Genius Juice to life, and then scaling it from thousands in revenue to millions.
He shares about a wide variety of subjects from his experience, getting on Shark Tank, the importance of a rock-solid product. You can proudly stand behind and his success with crowdfunding campaigns, including tips on getting the most out of your campaigns. He also talks about the importance of surrounding yourself with a team of advisors, with expertise in different aspects of your business.
Alex is an open book with some great action role advice for physical product entrepreneurs. Enjoy!
All right, Alex, how you doing?
Alex: I’m doing really good, Ken.
Ken: Hey, thanks for jumping on. I appreciate you taking the time.
Alex: Yeah. Thanks for having me on your show. Excited to be here.
Ken: So cool. Um, where are you calling in from?
Alex: He has so, um, I’m based in, uh, where, you know, we’re based in Torrance, California, I’m physically at my home office, which is like 90% of the country right now. I’m in Redondo beach, California, not a bad place to be. Can’t really complain.
Ken: Well, um, let’s just kick it off. We usually like to start with a, with a quote, um, or, uh, you know, something that’s impactful to you.
Do you have one in mind?
Alex: Wow. Uh, didn’t prepare a quote. Uh, but I would say kind of my mantra is, uh, you know what? My, my math teacher started back in high school. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but I think it was like, it was a quote from Woody Allen that says. Half of success is just showing up. Be there, put yourself out there.
And the more you put yourself out there and actually just be present, um, a lot of opportunities and doors will open for you. Yeah. Yeah,
Ken: it’s interesting. I, you know, we, we typically give people a heads up, but you know, I almost like the answers better when you have to just think about it, you know, and that’s a great quote, you know, it’s nice and simple, but it’s, uh, yeah, definitely show up.
Be there, give it a try. Um, that’s great. So, let’s, uh, let’s just dig into you just a little bit. What, what’s your background?
Alex: Yeah. So, um, I, I essentially came from a background in, uh, in sales and marketing. So, um, I studied business administration and marketing. Uh, you know, dual major at Cal poly San Luis Obispo from 2001 to 2005 and I graduated and I’m like, you know what, um, what should I do?
And what do most people do when they don’t have no idea what to do with their life? Uh, they sell insurance. So, I went into an Aflac, um, not knowing what the hell I was doing. And I decided. Okay, I’m going to take a crack at it. It’s a great company, great marketing, um, you know, still a, you know, a big, um, addressable market of people that are, that need, um, Aflac and that kind of insurance.
So I blew it out up here, you know, or down here, I should say, in Southern California. And, uh, it opened up a lot of accounts and new offices offering Aflac. And I did that for like seven years. And then, um, after that stint, I went into a nonprofit, um, which was great, except for the fact that it was non-profit.
And I, uh, I started a company called karaoke for a cure, uh, where I raised money for children’s hospitals. Um, you know, both here and also in Atlanta, which is a, the children’s cancer center. Which is, um, sponsored by Aflac. So that’s how I got connected with them to sponsor them for my own. Non-profit. I did that in 2012.
And then I had a short stent selling copiers and 2012 with a friend’s company and I made good money there, but I’m like, my calling is not the sell copiers. So, I went from copiers to coconut and in 2013, um, I decided to, uh, step into genius juice. And I, and I, you know, I’m jumping ahead here in the interview, but, uh, that was kind of how I started from graduating from college.
And, uh, my sales career and then, uh, really transitioning to being an entrepreneur.
Ken: And so, um, even though you were making, making money, was there anything specific about, you know, uh, sales, selling copiers, you know, specifically that, that wasn’t fulfilling or wasn’t clicking for you? What were you looking for at the time?
Alex: Yeah, I mean, there was really nothing. Incredibly fulfilling about it. It was very like mechanical, you know, just quotes and a very commoditized, you know, like everyone’s selling copiers at least, you know, it’s not as popular anymore, but you know, nine, 10 years ago, I’m still not that popular. It was kind of a dying.
Technology, but just wasn’t really fulfilling because I wasn’t deeply connected with the product. It really had no, um, impact on my own personal life. And even when I sold insurance, you know, I, I, I believed in the product, but it wasn’t like something that wasn’t a lifestyle thing that I would, you know, do every day.
Right. Like, you know, insurance. Right. It’s, you know, I’m not, I don’t want to think about insurance. Right. It’s not like something I think about all the time. So, um, that’s what really led to. You know, genius juice, um, which again, I’ll, I’ll stop myself from going into major detail. And so you asked more questions, but I wanted to, I wanted to really focus on something that reflected my lifestyle.
Something that I love, something that I drank every day and the way that I embarked on even thinking about the idea of genius juice was that, um, you know, when I was an insurance, every single morning, I would wake up and I’d have to go out. All day in the blistering sun knocked door to door and a business, you know, business parks, right?
These big business parks, like office space style, uh, just door to door. And I would always make a smoothie in the morning to keep me going to give me energy. And it would be like fresh smoothies, like protein or banana or almond milk, coconut water. And I really love making homemade smoothies. And I was very.
And my system, um, you know, it was still this day, very sensitive. I can’t just have anything. My body reacts and tells me very quickly if something is not good for me. So by making my own smoothie, it was something healthy and clean that I, that my body was was, um, was okay with. And so, I learned if I have a smoothie every morning, it would give me energy.
It was light. It sustained me for four or five hours. And so, I learned like, you know, I wish I could make this smoothie and bring it to the masses. Something that I love from my own passion and energy to the masses. And that’s how genius shoes was born
Ken: for those who don’t know what genius she says. Could you just, explain that a little bit?
Alex: So, uh, essentially, it’s really simple. Um, it’s a plant-based organic smoothie and a, we blend. Coconut water and also coconut meat as the main base. Uh, so we’d take a young Thai namhong coconut. We scoop out the meat and the water and then blend it together. And it makes us really delicious creamy base.
And I just fell in love with it. And I actually thought it was genius. That’s where the name came from. I’m like, this is genius blending the whole coconut. And so, um, So from there, um, you know, we added other, um, organic ingredients into it, you know, whether it’s organic coffee, organic chocolate, organic plant-based protein, but essentially it’s just a really clean, simple, clean label ingredient, organic smoothie that isn’t a bottled form that sold, you know, across the country, whether it’s whole foods or sprouts or Costco target, Albertsons and so forth. So that’s genius juice.
Ken: And so, there’s a little bit of a story about, um, you know, that genius comment. Um, was it a friend of yours that introduced it to you? How did you come across the concept of, of blending the, the, the meat of the coconut as well as the water?
Alex: Yeah, it was actually a good friend of mine, a vegan chef, uh, Cindy, you know, and, uh, her husband and like, they literally invited me over for dinner and for dessert, you know, they made me a whole coconut smoothie.
And, um, so they blended it up in their kitchen. They would, they think, they know they took like a, you know, like a hatchet knife, they cut open the coconuts, they scooped out the meat, uh, poured out the water, blended it. And I was like, damn, this is amazing. This is genius. Kind of combining the whole coconut.
And, um, that’s really. You know, all you need, right? Like from nature, like it’s simple, you don’t really need a lot of ingredients. Um, you know, just take a couple ingredients from a coconut, blend it together, and you have yourself a delicious, creamy, you know, organic smoothie with nothing else added. And that’s really the cornerstone and foundation for the company is having something simple from nature, a clean label and a that’s really what makes a genius.
Ken: Um, so I, I wanted to just ask a little bit more about that. I mean, you know, so your, your friend’s house and they, you know, they, they serve this to you. You think it’s delicious, you think is a great idea. Were you actively looking to launch a product or to, to start a business? You know, what, what was going on at your, in your mind at the time, and how did that lead to actually, you know, taking this, this good idea that you found out there and productizing it?
Alex: Yeah. You know, I, I was definitely on the hunt to like, make something my own, um, because I was selling. Other people’s products for many, many years, you know, I was selling insurance, Aflac, you know, fortune 200 company, you know, hundred billion and assay or whatever it is, 50 billion in assets or a hundred billion in assets, whatever they have now.
And then I worked for a copier company and, you know, I was basically building someone else’s dream versus building my building and making my own dreams happen and become reality. So, um, that’s where I’m like, you know what? I want to make something that’s an extension of myself that I love something that I would want to see in the market that I make at home, like an authentic, clean smoothie.
And so, um, you know, from there, that’s what really. Kinda kickstarted. Um, you know, my, you know, my journey into, uh, creating genius and actually bringing it to life. So, it was really from. An extension of what I wanted to see, what I wanted to see on the shelf, which is how a lot of entrepreneurs are. It’s like, it’s not out there.
I want to create that. And it’s something that I can have personally, since my system is very, very sensitive. And I can’t just go out and buy a, you know, a naked juice smoothie. I can’t just buy a Bolthouse. I can’t have these drinks because it honestly makes me feel like crap. So, by so genius was really an extension of my own love and passion for what, what I would want to see on the market. And that’s how it was born.
Ken: And as you were on the hunt for, for, you know, a product or an idea, were you thinking about physical products? Like, did you want to, you know, actually see something on a shelf or had you limited it to that subset of, you know, possible ideas that you could act on? Or did you have other, ideas.
Alex: Yeah, I wanted it. I wanted it to be in the product business. You know, I wanted to create something out of nothing. And have a product that was actually like, even when I went into whole foods, I’d be like, oh wow. Like it would be cool to be on the shelf. You know, it’d be awesome to be on the shelf. And, uh, you know, I just kind of had like dreams of that.
Like, man, like if I walked into a whole food and I see like, whatever that product is, I didn’t know. At that time, it was very kind of esoteric, but I’m like, I’d love to have my products on the shelf and where people can see it. People can grab it, people can take it home, they can enjoy it. And it can really make a difference in their lives.
So that that’s, that’s really, uh, what led me to say, I want to be in the product business, I’m going to create a physical product that you can touch, feel, taste, smell, and, um, you know, that’s, that was really my mission. And, uh, we, and we, and I delivered on that mission.
Ken: Yeah. And so how did you think about, um, then going forward?
Right. Um, what were, what were some of the first things you did, um, to actually, you know, start making the product and did you find a manufacturer to do this? Did you do it in house? How did you kick it off initially?
Alex: Yeah, it was a, just a really long journey, which, uh, I won’t go into major detail. I don’t want to put your listeners to sleep here, but I will say that we switched to a few different co-manufacturers.
Um, it was very hard to find someone to make this product because they have to make it right, uh, with quality and taste and texture. And it was just really, really fricking hard to find the right. A manufacturer. You think it’s simple? Oh, it’s just coconut water and coconut meat from a whole coconut. Um, that should be simple to make, but, but when you’re dealing with real.
Ingredients, uh, versus like, let’s say, uh, you know, like a Snapple or a Gatorade, or like a vitamin water. Those are easy to make because all it is is water and powder in our water and extracts are water, water, and flavoring. That’s really easy to make. When you’re making it straight from nature, it becomes infinitely harder to pull off and also scale if that makes sense.
So, so like, you know, we had to figure out how to get a great supply chains in Thailand, which we do have a sustainable supply chain out there where they’re delivering coconuts literally on a weekly basis. And then from there we had to figure out where to actually make this product and blend it and bottle it.
So, um, long story short, we found a great partner in Thailand. We have two partners out there. We found a great partner here in Southern California that makes the product for us. They Co-manufacture the product for us. And so now we’re in a really, really great place and we have great strategic partners that are, uh, really, really allowing us to scale the business.
I think that’s, what’s important is, you know, we went from, you know, thousands in revenue to millions. in revenue So you have to have the right partner to help you scale because it’s not, it’s not only about scaling your business, but you got to scale it sustainably and effectively with a great product.
You know, whether you’re at a million in revenue or a hundred million in revenue, your product still needs to be great. It still has to be great quality. And that’s really been our mission from the start is to deliver a great nutrient dense product, you know, To the shelves and bring nutrition to the mainstream.
And I think, you know, where we were realizing that goal, which is really exciting.
Ken: That’s awesome. Um, yeah, I wanted to just double click a little bit. We don’t have to spend a lot of time on it, but, but your comment about, you know, finding a good partner or a good manufacturer is really tough. Um, wanting to maybe double click on that a little bit.
What makes it tough? Maybe you could give us a couple tips on, on what to look for in a good manufacturer. Um, and, and I asked this question because you’re not the only one that says that, right. This is a very common struggle. Um, when trying to get a physical product out the door is finding a good manufacturer.
Alex: Yeah. I mean, you need to align with the, with the management team and the owners, and I think that’s important. Like I’m always. Really big on connecting owner to owner and with our co-manufacturers. Sure. Um, we talk all the time. You know, we have texting conversations, phone conversations, we talk about other trends.
Like we’ve become friends, right? Not just business partners, but friends. And so having a really great relationship is really, really key where you can pick up the phone and call the CEO or the owner and they’ll pick up, you know, and they’ll talk with you and they’ll listen to what your challenges are and they’ll work.
Uh, with you, um, you know, to resolve that. Um, so that’s one is they, they need to pick up, you know, they need to be accessible, you know, open minded partners. That will be eye-to-eye with you and at the same level as you and not see you as, oh, I’m bigger than you. So, I control, you know, it’s a partnership, you’re both like helping each other.
To grow and succeed. Uh, the other thing is, have to trust each other. You know, you have to trust that they’ll follow through on their promise to make a great product for you. And if something goes wrong, they’ll make it right. Right. Cause manufacturing so much can go wrong. Right. It can be not may correctly.
There could be, um, you know, a recall, which thank God, like we have not had one of those knock-on wood. We’ve had, you know, a solid rain quality product through, through and through with great partners. But you just want to, you know, when things go, right, it’s easy in a partnership, right. When things go wrong and things, you know, that’s where it’s a true.
Test of the partnership, right? When things go wrong, how do people react? How do people manage it? And luckily, you know, our partners, if something goes wrong on their side, they own up to it. They reimburse us and they, and they resolve and have a, uh, they have a remedy for the problem right away to help us and get back on our feet.
So, um, that, that’s where I think that’s the strongest measure of a great partner is they’re going to help you through thick and thin.
Ken: Yeah. And maybe this is a little bit of just the opposite of what you said, but, um, what are some red flags to look for, um, that, that you would, you know, run from that partner or, or say, hey, you know, maybe I have to check up on this, uh, before we make a decision, are there, is there anything that comes to mind that that would send you kind of running it in the other direction?
Alex: Uh, yeah, I mean, if they say something and then they do something else, um, that’s pretty like, even though it’s a no-brainer it’s, um, something that a lot of people overlook or they gloss over because they just want to like, say no, no, they’re great. You know what I mean? Like their grade, like we don’t, you know, we don’t need to like, you know, try to second guess to them.
Um, but you know, um, if someone says something and does something else, that’s a judgment on their character. And that’s a zero tolerance for me. You know, I’ve learned that if someone does something and you’re like, that’s kind of weird because what they did was different from what they said they were going to do.
So, they lied to me or they misled me or they’re just careless. Um, that’s a really big red flag. So, accountability, honesty being genuine and upfront. Um, is really, really important for me, you know, and in business to be really transparent and upfront and genuine. Um, also someone that has a great track record, right?
Like, you know, they’ve been around a while. Um, if they haven’t been around a long time and they’re new, not doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad, but inexperience is also a problem in this business. So, if someone is inexperienced and doesn’t know what they’re doing, and they’re trying to like cut their teeth on you.
Right. They’re trying to like learn with you. Uh, I don’t know, you know, most, most entrepreneurs know this, that there’s really no room for error, right. And business, like one error can lead to thousands of dollars or millions of dollars in loss. Right. So, um, I want to make sure that the partners I’m with that we’re with, you know, they know what they’re doing, they have the experience and if they don’t have the experience or a track record, um, that’s definitely another red flag for me.
Ken: And even something that you said, um, you know, almost in passing is that, you know, these are partners, you know, and so you wouldn’t put up with a business partner that did those things. Right. Um, and so you need to think of your, your manufacturer, your co-manufacturer as a partner, um, and somebody that’s going to be pivotal to the success of your business.
Alex: Exactly. You know, and I just, I just went through this with, um, you know, we, we, we had to let go a couple of our team members about a month and a half ago. It was actually like a, you know, a group, uh, that we had to let go because, um, we caught them in lies, you know? Um, they, they it’s heartbreaking cause they were with us for a while and we just caught them saying things that were not accurate.
And we had to actually let them go because of that. And, uh, you know, they were saying one thing and doing another thing. And there were, you know, to my face saying this and then behind my back doing something else. And I put up with it for a while. Actually, I gave, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, um, because I’m a very nice person, but I think I learned that if there’s a red flag, if they do something weird, they do something that makes you kind of scratch your head and go like, huh?
Why did they do that? Like, that’s kind of weird. You know, it’s like dating, right. You know, when something happens on the first or second date, you shouldn’t pay attention to that and be like, okay, this is probably not the right fit. And I need to bow out of this relationship or partnership. So, I’m, I’m a big believer, just, you know, I like to give second chances, don’t get me wrong, but I also, I also have zero tolerance for people that are not upfront and genuine because that’s our company culture is we’re honest with each other.
We’re genuine, like. Come hell or high water, whether it’s great news or bad news, I just want accountability. I want people to be dedicated and committed to their craft and upfront with each other. And that’s all I ask. Even if it’s bad news, just don’t lie to me. Just tell me the truth and we’ll solve it together.
So that’s a, that’s a big, a big ethos of our company is being honest and upfront with each other.
Ken: So, um, let’s switch gears just, just a little bit. Um, you came up with this concept, you found a good manufacturer. How did you actually, uh, you know, start taking this to market? What was, what were the first steps that you took?
Alex: Well, you know, we, we developed a lot of flavors early on, um, that never really. Never succeeded. Uh, in 2000 we started genius juice in 2014. Uh, believe it or not, you know, seven years ago, it’s been a long, long, long journey. Um, I mean, we’ve had more sales in the last year and a half than the entire previous five and a half years combined.
It’s funny how that works. You know, it’s like an actor who has like, you know, B rolls. You know, and, and backup parts. And then finally they get their big chance at the big screen. That’s kind of like what we feel like now we’re finally on the big screen, you know, and, and more mainstream now, but you want early on, you know, we, um, made a lot of flavors.
We discontinued a lot of flavors. Uh, we ended up going with just, um, you know, the pure coconut smoothie, the original. Uh, we actually had 14, 14 skews before when we started.
Ken: That’s how you came out the gate with 14 skews,
Alex: 14 SKUs, two different sizes, you know, seven flavors. We got coconut water. We had a kale smoothie.
We had a very, we had a carrot. Um, we had a cacao and we just learned that, you know, it’s better just to keep it simple, you know, keep it simple, less is more. So let’s just go down, back to basics and we actually broke it all the way down to one skew. And we were only one skew for three years, from 2015 to 2018.
And then in 2019, we came out with two new ones. Both of those also were discontinued the coffee and they’re like, it just took a while to get it right. You know, like we, we had the coffee and the turmeric, and then we made the coffee of the mocha. And then finally the mocha started taking off and doing well.
[00:24:16] And then the, and then the turmeric became the vanilla cinnamon and now the vanilla cinnamon is doing well. So, it took a lot of pivots to finally find her footing. And, you know, get it right. And our newest offering is the protein smoothie. So the protein plant-based protein with adaptogens that came out, um, about three months ago.
And it’s actually outselling the original, which is our top selling flavor.
Ken: And that’s the first other flavor that that’s outsold the original.
Alex: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s like, you know, so it’s basically like, you know, it’s like a. A brand-new expansion team that comes out the gate and beats in New York, New York Yankees, you know, um, like an unknown team, like the Las Vegas, what was that hockey team like the Las Vegas nights or whatever.
I can’t remember their name, but they came out the gate as an expansion team and they went all the way to the finals. Remember that a few years ago, that was like the protein line that came out of nowhere. And I became pretty much our top like that, you know, right there with the original, uh, and we launched it, um, in sprouts nationally.
So, um, so that’s really exciting. And you know, we’ve had other buyer meetings where the buyers are like, I love your original, but man, I’m really excited about that protein line. It’s something different. It’s something new, it’s delicious. It has a lot of value for the consumer because it has added protein with a smoothie that has added adaptogens, you know, for mental and physical boost with like lion’s mane and rishi.
So, um, so that’s really cool to see that, you know, we made a new innovation and it’s actually being embraced know by, by the stores.
Ken: And so, you’d said that, um, in the last year or so you’ve had more sales than you had in the entire lifetime of the business. What do you think led to that success? What what’s changed?
Alex: I think a couple different things. Number one, I mean, uh, you know, in no particular order, we have a great team, you know, we have, we brought on like Mike Rao or chief strategy officer. Um, he’s been an executive and vice president or president in many other financial businesses. So, he knows how to run a company.
And he’s just been amazing. You know, we brought on Casey , who was a. The operations manager for CD capital, a big CPG consultancy firm. Um, you know, we brought in crystal, who’s an awesome general manager. So shout out crystal Casey and Mike, you know, and there’ll be one of the people listening to this, to this podcast.
So they’ll, they’ll get their, getting their shout out and so, so great team, great organization. And then also just a great product that we really dialed in. I think by 2020, um, we really learned. Um, and we have shark tank too. I’ll get to that. But when in 2020, we really honed in on a great product. We, we partnered up with a local co-manufacturer in late 2019, and I was just a turning point where the product was so consistent, so delicious, you know, safe, like rarely had any kind of like, you know, quality issues.
If ever and having a great team, you know, great products and also our distribution strategy, we, um, you know, we pivoted and we to go away from just going everywhere, right? Like, let’s go into every store that like takes this product. It’s like, no, like, hell no, we’re not doing that anymore. Like we want to go after stores where the product is going to sell extremely well.
So, you know, going into like, you know, sprouts, whole foods like Albertsons, but the high-end divisions right on the coast, but we’re not going to go to Albertson’s, you know, in like, you know, like Nebraska, right? Uh, we’re not ready for that yet. We want to start at the coast. We want to hit some key regions where we know the consumer will understand our product and buyer product and appreciate the premium, this of our products.
So, I think we, we chose the right distribution strategy along with a great product and great team. And, uh, you know, that’s what led to our success.
Ken: I said that comment at the end, you know, talking about, um, not going into every store that you possibly can that’s might sound a little, counter-intuitive what, what’s the thinking behind that?
You know, why would you want to focus in on only the stores where, where you know, that it has your type of buyer and you know, that it will sell really well?
Alex: No, because number one, we don’t want to devalue the brand. So, like why, you know, we don’t want to go into stores where, um, you know, brands that are maybe not as premium as ours, you know?
So, it’s kind of like, you know, I, I, I, uh, this is really just a, it’s a, not a direct comparison or, you know, is it really in the same realm, but like, maybe it is, but we really call ourselves like the Tesla beverage. Yeah, our products, the Tesla of beverages. That should be the name of the podcast title for those actually.
Yeah, because it’s clean, you know, less is more, it’s innovative. It’s great. It’s a great product, but Teslas are not everywhere. You know, they, they, they dig super deep like in LA or San Francisco or, you know, Fremont area, um, you know, Seattle. But when I traveled out to Texas, I counted in four days, 15 Teslas.
You know, in four days, I mean, I can count 15. Tesla is around the corner from where I am right now. Right. So, so like they chose not to go everywhere. They just chose to go into the right markets and really dig deep. They’re like inch wide mile deep. One of my mentors, Jim Tonkin, you know, said. And, uh, so, you know, that’s, that’s, our approach is like, we’re, we’re actually now turning down business and turning down meetings where we feel that the product just doesn’t make sense there.
And it’s kind of just. It, you know, it’s just going to be a waste of our time and money and energy to try to launch there. When we’re only going to move like one or two units a week, I one unit a week per store or something like that, it’s just not going to be worth our time. So, uh, focusing in on were.
You know, demographically where the consumers will appreciate a product like ours. They won’t mind paying an extra dollar or two for a premium product. That’s really where we belong. And that was Tesla’s strategy. And, um, you know, they’re now one of the most valuable car companies in the world. So, it seems to be working.
Ken: Well, and like Tesla, um, you guys are priced a little higher than, than other beverages. It’s premium, its premium product positioning is kind of what you’re, what you’re going for. Um, can you talk, you know, some of the advantages of that strategy rather than trying to be low cost and everywhere?
Alex: Yeah. I mean, the advantage is that, you know, we’re not a me-too product that no one else it’s hard for someone else to.
Simply knock us off because we’re using, you know, the whole coconut, which makes it really creamy and filling. Um, so that that’s, that’s definitely a huge plus there. And, um, yeah, you know, you just, it really comes back to just the quality of the products. Where others are not doing what we’re doing, others are taking, you know, a shortcut and that shortcut is I’m just going to make it 90% water and put in a bunch of powders and mix it together and then call it called healthy on the front.
And that’s unacceptable, you know, to me, that’s not a healthy beverage, you know, it’s okay. Uh, but it’s not a sustaining grade product from nature. So that’s the idea behind your product is better quality, better ingredients, not Papa John’s, but better equipped, better quality, better ingredients, genius, you know, and when people have our products, you know, and they taste it and they, and they drink it and they feel it.
That’s where they’re going to get the benefit. They’re going to feel the benefits from it and realize this is exam grade product. And, um, they’re going to come back for more. So that’s really where we stand apart. Are people that buy our product or like, you know, like raving fans and they’ll come back over and over again because they realized we’re the only ones that are going this far to make a great quality product.
Ken: All right. Uh, and, and the pricing gives you the margin. To continue to make a great product, right? Um, that that’s what you reinvest into the, into the product, you know, um, I think a lot of people go for low cost, low cost and then try to make a premium product. And it just doesn’t, it doesn’t work that way.
You know, um, you actually need, you need the profits from, from your pricing to reinvest and continue to make the product better.
Alex: Exactly. I mean, we’re, we’re charging, you know, four 99 to five 99, some areas six 99, because, you know, number one we have to, because of the quality of ingredients and the cost of ingredients, number two is because people pay for it.
People pay for quality, you know, again, we’re there, they may not pay. And. You know, like in parts of Nebraska or Iowa or where I keep on picking on Nebraska, but, you know, but they will pay in, in Washington, you know, they will pay in California. They will pay in New York; they’ll pay in parts of Florida. So, it’s about finding the right market.
And again, this is not a product for everyone yet, but our vision is, you know, as we continue to scale. You know, and become a bigger brand. We’ll get there, we’ll get our costs down even more. And then we can eventually be at a lower price point and we can, we can bring this to more people like this can be in a seven 11 at four 99 or three 99.
This can be, you know, at a convenience store. Um, I mean, GT kombucha, you know, for those that don’t know is the largest kombucha company in the world. I mean, they’re doing billions, almost billions in revenue now, but when they started, they were at like $6 a bottle only in whole foods. You know, and it took 10 years or 15 years, buddy.
We know now, you know, you can go to a seven 11 and find his product at three 99. You can go to, you know, a Ralph’s you can go to, you know, Kroger anywhere in the country basically is selling his products because you’ve got enough scale to bring the costs down, to bring it everywhere. And that’s, our mission is to bring, you know, a great nutritious product to the mainstream.
And that’s our, that’s our dream and our vision. And, uh, All, all it takes is time to get there. Right? All it takes is time and scale, and we can definitely get there and bring a healthy, great product to more people, because I think, uh, overall. We think that everyone deserves that a product like this, you know, a great, healthy, clean product, low sugar, you know, way less sugar than a naked juice.
People deserve this product in their lives to make them feel better and give them more energy. And I want to share that gift with the world, you know? And so, um, I know we’ll get there. It’s just going to take time.
Ken: So, switching gears again, I wanted to make sure to get to. Um, something that you mentioned, um, you guys were on shark tank, looks like you did a deal with Barbara and mark.
Um, and, um, how did, how did that, uh, you know, how did that affect your business? What was the result of that?
Alex: Number one, I’m very, very, uh, open and honest with this is that the deal actually fell through. So, there was no deal, um, on the sh you know, there was a deal on the show, but there was no actual deal formed after the show
Ken: people who don’t know a lot of times that, you know, you agree to a deal, but then there’s a lot of due diligence that goes into it.
Um, there’s a lot of time actually. I had a friend who was almost a year between the time that they did the deal to the time they were trying to sign, you know, the actual, like formalized the deal, you know? So, from the time they filmed it to the time that they signed papers, it was almost a whole year. Um, and so w was there any particular reason, um, that it fell through?
Alex: Well, I mean, I can’t get into those major details, unfortunately. Um, I’m under an NDA there, but I can definitely say that it just wasn’t a fit for us. It wasn’t a fit for us. It wasn’t a fit for them. Uh, there wasn’t really a, uh, meetings of the mind there and, um, long-term. Better for our company not to bring in an investor like them because you know, they are on the cap table.
There’ll be a major, major equity holder. And obviously they would have certain rights to the company and that may affect our future, you know, operations and how we make decisions. So, so ultimately, you know, uh, that, that fell through, um, which, you know, 80% of all deals or more actually fall through on shark tank.
A lot of people, you know, do not, do not know that. But essentially from there, we went on to get aired. I got Erin in January, 2020, we got, you know, a quarter million in sales, um, literally within a week after airing, which is, you know, which was huge. And then, um, you know, from there we, uh, actually risk funny.
It was a half a million-dollar deal on shark tank. We ended up raising almost half a million online. You know, we wait right after, right around shark tank, we decided to raise online because we knew we weren’t going to get a deal. Um, uh, you know, from Cuban and Corcoran. So, we, uh, we raised online, we successfully raised nearly half a million dollars, literally, almost exactly what we would have gotten from the sharks and, uh, people.
Better terms. We have tripled evaluation and no one controlling us on why we could, what we could or could not do. And, uh, we got the public to come in, like people that love our product and buy it every day and they became investors and customers. So, it all worked out for the best.
Ken: So, it looks like you’ve done quite a bit of crowdfunding. You know, you guys did a Kickstarter pretty early on and you’ve done a we fund. And, um, also, uh, you have a current campaign going with Republic. Uh, could you tell us just a little bit about, um, crowdfunding and some of the advantages of using that vehicle to raise money?
Alex: Yeah, well, definitely. Um, uh, we’ll have the link, uh, hopefully on your post to our, which is running, which is the Republic campaign.
Um, but before we’re getting into a plug about that, It’s just a great vehicle to raise money. Um, because you’re raising from the public, it’s a simple, like, you know, simple as the wrong word, but it’s, it’s a, it’s an approach where it’s not as hard as one would think to do. Um, especially. On the cap table.
It’s only a single line on the cap table. It’s not like you have like a thousand people on the cap tables, all consolidated and rolled up under one line. And, um, you know, it takes a lot of effort to get the campaign going. But for those that don’t know, crowdfunding campaign is an official equity. It’s not like Kickstarter, but you’re actually doling out and giving out equity.
Or convertible notes or safe notes, which is all basically comes back to equity of your, you know, a piece of your, of your company, uh, online and used to be. And then people just go on, you can invest like a minimum of a hundred dollars and you’ll get 0.00, whatever, zero 1% of the company or whatever that is.
But we’ve had investors on there that do anywhere from $50 or a hundred dollars all the way up to, you know, a hundred thousand dollars. Um, so it’s been pretty incredible to see that. People are now finding great opportunities online there’s due diligence in our Republic, or we funder start engine. They do their due diligence and do a financial audit and review on the company before they can even be live right on the platform.
So, there’s a lot of like inherent trust from the investors on there. And I mean, as mentioned, we did half a million on we funder a year ago, we’re in a current, a new campaign with Republic. That’s been open for a few months. We’re already at 636,000 as we’re having this interview probably will be more.
Thank you. And so, for anyone out there, I mean, that is an entrepreneur and you’re looking to raise capital. Gone away fonder, go to Republic. You know, um, you can email me and I can give you some tips on where to go and who to go to. Uh, email@example.com. Alex said, genius, juice.com. And essentially, it’s a great avenue to raise money.
And the coolest part is once you get going with a campaign, like once you get to like 50,000 or 70,000, 75,000, you don’t really have to push as hard as you know, you can have. It just, it’s rolling and it’s gaining momentum. And then after a while it just takes kind of a life of its own. If that makes sense.
And once it’s big enough, you get a lot of investors that will just go in and invest without you having to lift a finger. So, the first part of it is, is a lot of work to like get it up and running, you know? Um, to get it’s like 50,000 or a hundred, it’s a lot of work. You’ve got to get investors from the outside to come in.
You have to call friends and family, but once you start getting to like 50,000 and above, it really starts to take on its own energy. And we went to a hundred thousand and since going there, you know, without really a ton of effort, we’ve gone from a hundred now up to 600, like almost 640. Thousands. So, for anyone who wants to help us to bring our products to the mainstream, please make sure to hop on Republic, republic.co/genius, dash juice.
And again, like the link will be in the, in the show. The, hopefully the show, uh, right underneath the comments would love for you guys to come out and support us.
Ken: Yeah. And we’ll, we’ll definitely put that link in the show notes. All right, Alex. Well, let’s switch gears to the quickfire round of stuff for questions here for you.
And just tell me the first thing that comes to mind, a name, one tool or resource that has helped you in your current position.
Alex: I think the resource is having like a board. You know, having like, uh, advisors and mentors, um, I have great mentors, you know, I, I have, uh, you know, Doug pack. I have Bruce Nierenberg.
I have a Tama lingo. I have Patrick Stacey, these are all like, fantastic people in different areas and they all know different elements of the business, whether it’s finance, marketing, strategy, operations investments, um, you know, scaling, uh, you know, manufacturing production. So having a great people around you, like a board of advisors, that’s been the best tool for me to be successful.
Ken: Uh, what’s a book, um, that you that’s helped you, that you would recommend to others.
Alex: I honestly, don’t read a lot. I read a lot from my phone and articles, but I just do not read books too often. Um, I think, uh, what’s uh, I know I read a book that I really, really love, but it, it was just inspirational. It’s called born to run.
It’s a great, amazing book about a guy that’s running along, like in like somewhere in the. And the sticks like in Mexico and he learns about life. He learns about appreciating the simple things and, you know, taking care of yourself. I mean, the guy almost died while running. Cause he, I think he ran like a hundred miles or something
Ken: And he did barefoot too. right?
Alex: And it was a, it was barefoot I’m in the middle of mountains where there’s like animals and poisoned bushes and poison insects. And there’s tons of things that could kill you out there. And, uh, but anyway, great story, great book, inspirational about persistence and never giving up and like giving it your all.
So, I would recommend it.
Ken: Yeah. What about, um, you know, you mentioned that you read articles, are there any particular websites or, or sources that you pay attention to?
Alex: You know, I like that. That is great, you know, and say B it’s a CPG beverage, like insider resource website in a way you can read about, you know, launches or investment rounds or new trends.
And, uh, you know, John Craven over there, John Landis, Ray Latif, over at dev net. They’re awesome. Um, and you know, I just go to LinkedIn, you know, I love LinkedIn is, you know, if you’re following the right people, you’re following the wrong people, it’s a nightmare on your feed. But if you have the right people, you’re following.
Yeah, you see some great articles and great videos, inspirational videos. So, I think LinkedIn is an awesome,
Ken: that’s great. What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to your 21-year-old self
Alex: start earlier. Do whatever you want to do. What, what your dream is. What gets you up in the morning and gets you excited, you know, start earlier and do it right away.
And don’t wait because the younger you are, um, the easier it is to be honest. But again, like the flip side of that is I would have never gotten to where I am today without going through all those other experiences with like insurance and selling copiers. And non-profits, I learned a lot from each of those experiences, which has built me into the person that I am today.
So, you know what? I wouldn’t take it back. I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. In any other way, but I would say, you know, don’t waste your freaking time in a corporate office job if that’s not for you, you know, and don’t just do it for the paycheck because money will come and go. You can’t take money; you cannot take money to your grave.
Well, you can, but you can’t use it in your grave. Very useful, very useful. I don’t think there’s an age. I don’t think there’s a, uh, you know, a square or a checkout register on your, in your, in your coffin. So, uh, yeah, just, just like. Whatever and passions you started right away. Don’t waste your time at a corporate job, which doesn’t really make sense for you just for the paycheck. Do it for more than the paycheck, do it out of love.
Ken: It was one person, maybe another entrepreneur that you’d love to take the lunch. Somebody that you look up to admire watch closely.
Alex: I mean, a set, set his company earlier, Elon Musk, you know, I know it’s kind of a very cliched answer. Um, but the reason why is because the guy is very different from your typical like CEO, you know, he is in like outspoken, he’s actually kind of anti-social in a way.
[00:46:14] And you know, if you saw him on SNL, I don’t know if you saw his like, monologue, but
Ken: I saw some clips and that was enough.
Alex: Yeah. He’s like awkward. Right? He’s got awkward. It’s, it’s hard for him. And like, I relate to that because I could be socially awkward, you know, I get nervous sometimes or anxiety and he’s like kind of the same way as me.
So, I really connect with him on a human level. And for those reasons I would love to. Sit down with them and just get to meet him and see how he thinks and like also get his impression on genius Jews. I mean, it’d be awesome if he, uh, became a fan of genius because it makes sense, right? Like he’s a genius. So, there you go.
Ken: Well, Alex wants to wrap up here. Um, is there anything that, that you’d like to, to, to plug or promote, then we’ll just get some, some parting words from you. Um, some advice for, uh, other entrepreneurs that are, that are in the physical product business and are kind of in the grind, you know, what, what would be some final things that you could say to them?
Alex: Uh, I mean, I would say just, uh, if you’re in the CPG business, make sure you have great margins, make sure you’re sustainable from the start. Like don’t try to just act strictly out of passion. You got to make sure you’re organized and you have the right margins for your products. You can be sustainable. Um, so that’s one, I think, major, major thing that I learned, you know, the hard way, um, and, you know, just make sure that you have the right products, you know, for the time, you know, the, the timing is so key.
Um, and you know, so my advice is around CPG, right? Timing, you know, the right people, the right products. So that’s, uh, so TPP, you know, timing, people, products. That’s my, that’s my advice.
Ken: All right. That’s a great note to end on. And just one more time. Um, can you tell us where to, uh, support, uh, your ongoing, a crowdfunding campaign that’s going on right now?
Alex: Yeah, so it’s just a republic.co. So not.com but.co republic.co/genius. dash juice.
Ken: Okay. And again, we’ll, we’ll include a link in the show notes. Hey, appreciate it, Alex. Thank you for coming on. This has been great.
Alex: Definitely. Thank you, Ken, for having me really appreciate this man.
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