Insider Ep. 87: Winning Over Investors Is Step One. Step Two Is About This.

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If you’re a regular BevNET reader, you might recognize Allison and Stephen Ellsworth, co-founders of prebiotic soda brand Poppi, who triumphed in BevNET’s New Beverage Showdown 12 competition. Or you might recall them from their 2018 appearance on the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” in which they received a $400,000 investment from beverage industry luminary Rohan Oza. In both appearances, the brand was known as Mother Beverage and positioned as a line of sparkling apple cider vinegar drinks.

The “Shark Tank” deal elicited additional funding via CAVU Venture Partners, the private equity firm co-founded by Oza, an investment that contributed to the brand revamp. In an interview included in this episode, the Ellsworths spoke about their foray into the beverage industry and lessons learned from their first year in business, one that included the launch and eventual shuttering of a production facility, and how they navigated the revamp. They also discussed how consumer awareness about Poppi’s key ingredient has evolved over the years, and how they’ve maintained their independence and vision for the brand while aligned with influential and experienced strategic partners.

Show notes:

0:38: The Answers You’re Looking For Might Be Here -- The episode hosts encouraged early-stage entrepreneurs to apply to the upcoming BevNET New Beverage Showdown 19 and NOSH Pitch Slam 8 competitions (deadline is May 29) and spoke about how content in BevNET and NOSH’s education platform can help brand owners make informed decisions about their businesses (access is free to subscribers). They also discussed the launch of a new brand of chickpea chips and our Virtually Live event, which will be held on June 23 and 24.

10:49: Allison & Stephen Ellsworth, Co-Founders, Poppi -- The Ellsworths spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about how they first encountered apple cider vinegar and their motivation to leave lucrative careers and launch a beverage brand. They also discussed a gradual shift in how consumers perceive apple cider vinegar, why operating a manufacturing facility provided important lessons on how to manage co-packer relationships, preparing for their appearance on “Shark Tank” and how to tactfully decline advice or recommendations from investors. Later, they explained why they hired a CEO in 2019 and why Stephen reassumed the role earlier this year and how they are navigating an expanding market for better-for-you soda.

Brands in this episode: Poppi, Coconut Cartel, Revive Kombucha, Aqua ViTea Kombucha, Ugly Drinks, GT’s Kombucha, Humm Kombucha, Peacasa Snacks, Hu Kitchen

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