Iris Nova founder Zak Normandin: Being on Amazon is a defense strategy

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Iris Nova founder Zak Normandin is betting on a suite of "no or low" sugar drinks -- sparkling teas, seltzers and lemon juices -- and on a new way to sell them.

"Every brand has a phone number," Normandin explained on the Modern Retail Podcast. "When you want to place an order for a product you just pull out your phone, you text the brand directly."

His lemonade brand, Dirty Lemon, has sold more than 2 million bottles since its founding in 2015, and per Forbes, 90% of those sales happened via text. And Iris Nova now is growing more, thanks to a cash injection of $15 million from Coca-Cola -- to whom, he said, he's open to selling to. "I think that that's probably the best path forward for us unless we can get to a place where, very quickly, where the company is profitable," Normandin said.

Normandin called his research into the Asian market "inspiration" for the text message payment system. "I found that in Asia it was probably the most exciting, just the speed at which the market is moving is much different than here in the States," Normandin said.

He talked about the fading clout of influencers, the tough path forward for direct-to-consumer companies and the value of text robots (even if none has passed the Turing test) on this week's episode.

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