Lessons from scaling Olipop
Ben Goodwin, Olipop’s co-founder and CEO, on what he’s learned building a breakout beverage brand.
Olipop has become one of the breakout stars of the modern beverage industry. It makes healthier versions of classic soda pop flavors — like cola, grape soda, and root beer — featuring a lot less sugar, plus a proprietary blend of fiber and prebiotics.
Launched in 2018 by Ben Goodwin and David Lester, the company says it’s on track to do more than $200 million in sales this year, which could mean potentially tripling or more from last year.
Olipop is riding a few major trends, including massive interest in consuming less sugar and a growing interest in gut health. And a wholesale customer base of grocery chains that are trying to modernize by stocking cool brands whose products are better for your health.
It’s also operating on the rails of the beverage industry, which is all about scale and distribution — you either get huge quickly or fizzle out. And it’s done this despite one big hurdle: Unlike most canned soda brands, it’s supposed to stay refrigerated.
I recently spoke with Goodwin, Olipop’s CEO, about some of the lessons he’s learned from starting and growing the company. What follows is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.
In this interview:
- How Olipop got its first customers
- The fundamental truths of the beverage industry
- Why is gut health increasingly popular?
- How Ben formulates Olipop flavors
- Is Olipop a digitally native brand?
- Advice for beverage entrepreneurs
Frommer: Ben Goodwin, thanks for speaking with The New Consumer. We’re going to talk about Olipop the product, the business, and your experience growing it, but let’s start with your story. How’d you get into making soda?
Goodwin: Thanks for having me, Dan. I’m really excited to be here.
I grew up eating a standard American diet and my family was pretty poor. So it was kind of the American story that’s typically associated with that — childhood obesity and other things that are not hyper-pleasant.
Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.
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