Most people have never heard of the drink, and the ones that have, don’t know how to get their hands on some. What are we talking about? Kombucha; and Health-Ade is doing their best to spread the word about the healthiest drink out there. The sweet-tea based drink is sugar free and is known for making its drinkers feel incredible after jus one swig.
LA TechWatch spoke with CEO and cofounder Daina Trout about the company as well as how they plan to universalize the drink.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We’re not sharing the amount invested, but know we got enough to build our brewery so we can meet demand over the next 2 years. We have partnered recently with CAVU and First Beverage in the previous rounds for the investment, plus we started with some help from friends and family.
Tell us about your product or service.
We manufacture and sell Health-Ade Kombucha, the best tasting and highest quality kombucha you can buy. Kombucha is a fermented tea, and it naturally contains probiotics and healthy acids. Kombucha is one of the fastest growing categories in beverage, and Health-Ade is the fastest growing top 10 brands of kombucha in the nation.
What inspired you to start the company?
Health-Ade was started by my husband, best friend, and I because we were looking to make a mark on the world. We had the “itch” to do something big and different, and started an entrepreneur club with about $300 each to put toward the endeavor. Not surprisingly, most ideas cost too much—and we sipped on my kombucha that I had learned to make in Graduate school while we pondered what the big idea could be. Soon enough, and through a round-about way, we realized the answer was beneath our noses the whole time. I knew kombucha, Justin knew marketing, Vanessa knew sales…and a farmer’s market permit only cost $150. The rest was history!
How is it different?
Health-Ade exists to make the best tasting and highest quality kombucha you can buy. We pull out all the stops to be the best brew, like: ferment all in glass and super-small batches, and flavor ONLY with the highest quality ingredients you can find, like cold-pressed juice from organic produce. We’re putting REAL food—real kombucha—on the commercial shelf, and we don’t believe anyone is out there doing it as real as us.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We’re going all the way. We believe the whole nation is looking for a delicious and convenient drink that’s real, makes you feel good, and is naturally low in sugar and calories. The category is expected to be $1B by 2017, but I think it’s way bigger.
What’s your business model?
To learn from every mistake we make, do the best we can, and grow as fast as we can.
What is the advantage to drinking Kumbacha over Tea?
I wouldn’t say one has an advantage over the other. As a nutritionist, I’m a firm believer that all things holistic have a place in a healthy diet. Kombucha is a delicious and convenient drink that makes you feel good, is REAL, and is naturally low in sugar and calories. I’d say instead—it’s probably a better choice than soda.
What was the funding process like?
It’s demanding and time consuming. Usually, too, you need the money fast so it’s also urgent. In general—I would advise to get more than you think you need and get it earlier than you need it. To be clear, I’ve never followed my own advise.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Our biggest challenge was time.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
They all told us it was 3 things: 1) people clearly want more kombucha 2) We make the best kombucha and 3) We show signs of being strong leaders.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
I’d like to be nationally available, I’d like to build out my ops department so everything runs more smoothly, and I’d like to be in my new brewery kicking ass.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
We started with $300 each. It was a year before we had any help. We had to put in an unthinkable amount of sweat and work, in place of the $, but we made it work. I think where there’s a will, there’s a way.
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