Founded in December 2015 in Los Angeles by Wyatt Taubman (CEO), Kyle Withycombe (COO) and JR Simich (VP sales), who met at the University of San Diego, Vive Organic shots first hit local stores in April 2016, and are now available in 1,400+ locations including Whole Foods nationwide as more retailers build wellness shot subsets within their functional beverage sets.
The company does not disclose revenues but says it grew sales eight-fold from 2016-2017 and five-fold from 2017-18.
“Our product works well when it’s in the cold boxes alongside beverages such as kombucha and coconut water as well as grab & go boxes near the registers, which is why we started to focus on the natural and the conventional channel because they have these more established functional beverage sets,” Taubman told FoodNavigator-USA.
“We anticipate really rapid retailer adoption of the [wellness shots] category on a national level across a variety of channels.”
The Eureka moment
While the category has heated up recently as more brands have entered the space, competition is a positive thing because it raises awareness and validates what Vive has been doing, said Taubman, who had a Eureka moment after slugging down a cold pressed ginger and turmeric shot at a juice bar in early 2014.
“It was the first time I’d tried one and it had this really powerful kick… I got really excited about the concept because it was convenient and concentrated but also fresh [Vive Organic uses HPP to ensure it kills pathogens but retains its fresh cold pressed credentials].”
Go deep before you go wide
The company, which has made several significant hires recently including Blair Cornish (SVP sales), Joia Pardo-Matthews (VP business development west), and Sherri Sparaga (VP business development east), will spend the money on hiring additional team members and boosting distribution, he said.
“Because he’d been through all this before, Mark [Rampolla, co-founder of PowerPlant Ventures and founder of coconut water brand Zico] has provided great insight and feedback on how we should be looking at the business at different stages, and helped us look at different proof points as we built the business to ensure we were checking off these boxes as we went along so that we could continue to raise money.
“I’ve known Mark for about two years and he encouraged us to stay focused, so when we raised our seed round in December 2016 we focused heavily on southern California to go very deep and really build our brand and understand which channels were working, and which kinds of merchandising were working, so when it came to the Series A, we would know how best to spend the money.”
“It's rare to have the opportunity to build an entirely new category. Vive Organic has that and has assembled an impressive team that will allow them to lead the category. I've been a fan of the founders and products for more than two years and am thrilled to work with them more closely now to help them scale.”
Mark Rampolla, co-founder and partner, PowerPlant Ventures