What’s the inspiration behind Genius Juice?
Genius Juice started as a passion to bring a clean, filling, creamy smoothie to the market with less ingredients and more benefits. I first discovered the idea at a friend’s house. After dinner, they made me a coconut smoothie dessert using coconut water and coconut meat. I thought this combination was ‘Genius’ and had to be brought to market.
When did you decide to make the jump to found Genius Juice?
It was a big jump. I had been selling insurance policies for 7 years and had created a stable income. To jump from a predictable job with a lot of repetition to being thrown in the entrepreneurial storm with unpredictable days, daily stresses, and self-funding was a huge adjustment.
However, taking pride and ownership in creating a brand I believe in and bringing it to people was—and continues to be—a major payoff for me and the rest of my team.
Have you always been a health-conscious eater?
I started this product with a passion to bring the cleanest, simplest, and most delicious smoothie to the market, with coconut water and coconut meat as the creamy base. I personally have a huge sweet tooth and always crave something decadent, yet healthy. It’s often hard to find these options out there on the shelf. I think Genius Juice may solve this problem for a lot of people.
You prioritize sustainability as part of your brand values. Why did you decide to integrate this into your mission?
Our mission is to bring nutrition to the mainstream. I think the best way for us to create access is to continue scaling and bringing our product into more mainstream accessible stores (Kroger, Safeway, Costco, Target, etc). The more we scale, the lower we can bring the cost on the product and educate the distributers, farmers, and consumers. For example, we are currently in the process of talking with a coconut coalition group to help lessen the carbon footprint on harvesting coconuts, while also increasing awareness around the benefits of coconut.
How do you handle risk and competition?
We embrace competition because it brings more awareness to the functional plant-based smoothie/juice space. We need to shift consumers’ focus away from legacy and traditional options, and have them look at healthier and better-for-you products. There is always going to be competition to some degree, but we see this as creating awareness for the category and lifting all sales across the board.
You were on Shark Tank! What was that experience like?
Shark Tank was an unforgettable experience. I had a lot of nerves leading up to the show, but ultimately, it was a huge success. The taping itself lasted nearly an hour and 15 minutes, however the airing was only 12 minutes long. I can tell you first-hand that a lot happens between camera adjustments, restarts, lighting, and other set needs.
I do have one favorite memory: after our song and dance and opening pitch, I was very thirsty. I asked for water, but the camera crew were busy adjusting the equipment, so Lori Grenier, one of the Sharks, gave me her glass of water to drink. It was very thoughtful of her!
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenge(s) you’ve faced while launching your company?
The #1 challenge we’ve had is supply chain and sourcing sustainably, specifically the young “nam hom” Thai coconut. We crack open tens of thousands of coconuts at our partner’s facility, and then hand scoop out the meat and extract the coconut water. Scaling an operation like this and also supply sourcing from overseas is difficult in general, especially dealing with ocean freighters, customs, and predicting demand in the US, which drives harvesting and manufacturing in Thailand. Thankfully, we have fantastic partners who are very experienced in shipping raw materials overseas and we have been able to scale with minimal interruptions or major issues.
Any tips and tricks you’ve learned over the years to open a coconut?
Yes! I use the coco-jack. It’s a hammer and metal tool that makes coconuts very easy and safe to open! Not sure if it’s still selling online, but I am sure it can be found somewhere on Amazon. When all else fails, I use a sharp kitchen knife and slowly chop around the top of the coconut and then pop it open. Pure Genius!
What is your superpower?
My superpower is persistence. Never wavering or giving up and continuing on our path forward despite challenges and roadblocks, I refuse to accept defeat and stay positive and optimistic that we can overcome challenges and continue to grow and become successful.
What’s your kryptonite?
Negativity is my kryptonite. It sometimes gets me down when others don’t align with my beliefs, and disappoints and saddens me. However, I have come to realize not everyone can be in the same mindset to me and I have learned to manage my expectations and this allows me to better handle situations where it’s not uplifting or positive.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
The best piece of advice I have received is "don’t get too low when things are bad, and don’t get too high when things are good." Having a stable, managed reaction and response to outside influences is the most viable way to run a business to ensure continuity and consistency.