Ben Goodwin: Co-Founder & CEO of OLIPOP

Episode 463

The Co-Founder and CEO of OLIPOP, Ben Goodwin, wanted to disrupt the soda industry and boy has he ever. OLIPOP is a better-for-you soda brand that has put gut health and indulgence side by side in a fun, nostalgic way. We discuss his journey disrupting the $400 billion a year global soda industry and continuing to stay ahead of the competition.
Ben’s shares many of his startup and scaling lessons and what’s in store for this terrific brand in the future. Now on #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone. And welcome back to the Kara Goldin show. Super, super excited to have my next guest. Here we are joined by Ben Goodwin, who is the co founder and CEO of a very fun brand that you may have seen and hopefully have tasted and if you haven’t tasted, you need to get out to the store or get online immediately and give it a try. It’s called OLIPOP. Very, very fun launched just a few years ago, this better for you soda brand, has put gut health and indulgence side by side. And I really look forward to discussing his journey to disrupting the Ready 400 billion a year global soda industry and continuing to stay ahead of the competition. So welcome, Ben. Hey, Kara.

Ben Goodwin 1:29
Thanks so much for having me. stoked to be here.

Kara Goldin 1:31
Super nice to have you here. And very, very excited to get into our discussion. So please tell us all in your words, what is ollie pop,

Ben Goodwin 1:42
so pop is a new kind of soda. It’s actually the first real disruption to the soda industry since the 1980s. When effectively like diet soda came into the forefront, ollie pop is the progenitor of the cat, this new category, which is kind of being called in the trade press functional soda. And we’re kind of definitively as well as the leader in that category. And then all the pomp as a part of that new kind of stuff, the structure. I mean, what effectively differentiates it is on a experiential basis. It’s just like, so do you grew up drinking, I mean, I grew up drinking that soda, and I was very persnickety about making sure the flavor profile match. But instead of 40 grams of sugar, it’s two to five grams for 12 on scan. And then we actually use fiber and prebiotics in the product as well, which we’ve actually done some clinical trials around as well to be able to prove out or at least a cancer proof but to evidence benefit to to consumers. And their right now we’ve got nine grams of total fiber per cancer as well, which makes a big difference when only one in 10 Americans are actually even meeting the FDA recommended quantity, fiber, you know, on a daily basis. And so there’s a gap that we’re trying to address. And

Kara Goldin 3:03
so I read a little bit about your backstory, but I’d love for you to share it. It’s you didn’t come from the beverage industry, this was very personal for you, would you mind sharing the backstory,

Ben Goodwin 3:14
of course, I mean, I, I love consuming and standard American diet, we also grew up fairly poor, and that combination. So when you don’t have a lot of money, and you’re consuming standard American diet doesn’t tend to go, I don’t know if you’ve noticed. So I grew up in overweight and anxious. And it was kind of essentially playing out that the normal course that doesn’t it 14 It was just this kind of barely this moment of epiphany. I just realized, like, this is not a good art, like the way that this is the way I’m feeling. Now, the way that this is gonna play out to my life, I don’t want my life to play out with this. So kind of overnight, I just fit shifted my exercise diet, I started paying attention to my mental health. And it was a pretty transformative experience for me over kind of the next four or five years, it’d be a huge point of focus. And what was pretty impacted me is you know, obviously lost a bunch of weight and had a bunch of positive outcomes on that end of the spectrum. But it was really the the stabilization against my emotional health, kind of the the enhanced cognitive benefits that I got as well from that shift in my diet that they impacted me the most. And I ended up feeling like this is a very powerful tool for self actualization self improvement is fully under my control. So I really leaned into it and I ended up wanting somehow to make my life about expanding that or just promoting that as as an adult. And then I was going to college for environmental science and I ended up dropping out of college and partly not had a mentor Are we actually great. So warehouse, when I was like a teenager, still would, by the way, I’m just kind of too busy. But it’s like still very fun. But I met my mentor through that through an adventure through. And he was a black civil rights activist, won a Supreme Court case by himself with no legal representation. And here’s the reason why it’s illegal for your police to ask you for your ID without probable cause. And I was really, really impacted by the kind of direct action that was associated with what he actually accomplished. And also somebody who, again, growing up poor didn’t want to be saddled with debt. I ended up dropping out of college, it but it’s simultaneously so it was this kind of, I think I can take direct action to accomplish something really interesting in my life, I know that I’m a person of one facet is something I really, really kind of mercilessly get after it, and learn and explore. And I also have to always have the natural kind of makings of an entrepreneur. And it kind of just put two and two together that I could become a health and wellness, or CPG entrepreneur. And that’s the direction I went. And I obviously never looked back.

Kara Goldin 6:14
So did you know a lot of CPG entrepreneurs that had sort of started companies and scale them? I mean, this is just like, This is wild.

Ben Goodwin 6:24
No, definitely not. You know, I think like I did, I was I was born in San Francisco, I grew up in Northern California. And so entrepreneurialism is just a part of the tapestry. I do think about this, right? Because there’s a lot of really valid criticism around Silicon Valley. And, you know, like, only get it simultaneously. I’m a weird, dude. And there’s a lot of places in the, in the country where my weirdness would have been, you know, such a blockage to my progress. And the one thing I will say, on Silicon Valley’s benefit on the behalf is like, you know, I think people recognize, like, here’s this guy stepping into a meeting with hedge fund people or whatever, he’s wearing sweatpants. And that was wearing sweatpants, free COVID or whatever. Ironically, don’t wear sweatpants today. But anyway. So this is obviously a bit strange. And he’s talking about the microbiome national scale is like these wild conversations. But like, there was there was a mentality of like, let’s get let’s, let’s hear him out. And let’s see if we actually think that this could produce some real value. And do we kind of believe in this guy, and I do think, uniquely Silicon Valley was was and Northern California, was an environment that did help open that pathway up for me. But yeah, in terms of dynamic sleep, that CPG entrepreneurs, or people that scaled anything, no, of course.

Kara Goldin 7:49
So you were on a journey to get yourself healthy and saw just by just by changing things in your own diet. What was it about fiber for you that just really, it sounds like a light bulb really went off? Yeah,

Ben Goodwin 8:05
that’s insane. Fiber is something I ended up coming to somewhat deeper into my journey. I think it it started with, I kind of erroneously decided I wanted to get into beverage. I have some idea about a beverage I had, actually with a friend, I’d started up a farmers market booth in high school, selling young Thai coconuts, right. And I had tried to coconut. And I was like, Why still dripping vases are awesome. So again, this is kind of entrepreneurial nature. I have we started at farmer’s market booth. And then I was like, hey, it’d be awesome, actually great. The drink. And again, this is this was 18 years ago. So like, prior to drinking coconut water and some other things like so I kind of earnestly wanted to get into beverage, but I didn’t know where to start. And I had a friend who was starting with the Bucha company. And I kind of knew a little bit of a Bucha was not very much. But that sounds like fun. But so I joined him. And I helped him kind of start, you know, didn’t that company off the ground. And so that was kind of the place first cut my teeth, both into kind of fermentation and beverage in general, especially kind of the supply chain and ops side and the production side. But I also learned that the microbiome, and then I learned about the brain gut access to that say to produce the majority of our neurotransmitters and hormones. In our microbiome, via fermentation. What we eat is effectively the medium that they consumed. deuced those metabolites. That’s where the real light bulb the initial light bulb was, oh, wow, this is probably what happened to me. I drastically changed my diet and my lifestyle and that really affected my microbiome corresponding to help my mental and my cognitive and emotional functioning, fight or pain down the road even like a decade later, because the prevalent The prevailing wisdom at the time was that the best way to benefit the microbiome was through the pathway of probiotics and, and probiotics via fermentation as well. And I’m still a fan of fermentation. But a lot of the consumer grade probiotics didn’t end up providing as much benefit as, as we kind of initially thought that they might, for a host of reasons, you’d have to want to, we’re gonna have to, then there’s this more, this newer screen of science, looking at the kind of dietary, the overall dietary composition of indigenous groups and the gatherers, and the things that are pretty prevalent in their diet that are missing from the industrialized diet. And that’s where by the rows at the top, where we’re saying, Oh, my God, their microbiomes are way healthier, their blood sugar stability is much better, because the membrane is much better. And they’re looking mechanically they’re better off and, and they’re not obviously taking probiotic capsules right there. It’s their diets that are driving all this benefit. And one of those big things that the President that ended up landing of fiber, prebiotics, and nutritional diversity, as being the three things that are really present in those diets that are missing from industrialized diet that ended up becoming a nutritional platform that powers all

Kara Goldin 11:16
the above. So you and I were talking before we hit record, you originally started with probiotics, and then you moved over to prebiotic biotics. Can you share a little bit more about why that decision? What is the difference? I think most consumers don’t really understand it.

Ben Goodwin 11:34
Yeah. 100%. So, so probiotics are actually the micro organisms themselves, that there’s evidence and that there’s evidence that those micro organisms confer a benefit to the to the post, right. So you oftentimes see lactobacillus strains in that prebiotic probiotic category, you see Bifidobacterium strains in that probiotic category. We actually are the research that we’ve done at Purdue and another major university, we are actually able to show that our product, massively group with a bacteria, right so and that is the difference between prebiotics probiotics, prebiotics are the food that are targeted at growing those microorganisms. Probiotics are the micro organisms themselves. And now you started to hear people talk about post biotics, also, post biotics are the metabolites that the probiotic generates, as it eats things and excretes. Effectively, the outcome, we’re not probably going to get post biotics, I think it’s a complicated conversation with consumers. That that’s a three that’s the pre the pro post.

Kara Goldin 12:45
Is there one, I feel like pre is so much more popular right now. Is there one that is? Is this like 2.0? of of the probiotic phase? Or do you think that they’re just different?

Ben Goodwin 12:59
I do think I do think that I like, as I looked at the research, I became, and look because think about it, I spent a decade of my life, I can Bucha company that I’ve worked on, I prevented Waterkeeper business, which is kind of when I first came up with this healthy sort of idea. Prior to only pots, so I had like a decade invested in fermentation, and probiotics. So it wasn’t is super easy switch. But the data was so overwhelming. There’s a lot of issues probiotics, that the so if I’ve provided some liquid matrix, are they going to survive? In the in the liquid? You know, are they going to survive? The gastric juices in the stomach? Are they actually gonna make it where they need to make it to in the colon? If they do make it when they need to make it on the colon? Are they actually sticking around? Or are they just getting excreted out? Are they are they competing with your native microbiome? Or are they synergizing? Like, these have so many questions. And unfortunately, the data on the outcomes weren’t that great. Like in terms of like consumers taking commercially available probiotics, I saw a lot of spore form probiotics in dreams, and then I would go to culture then and nothing would grow. And I was like, I’m not really confident at this against probiotics is very valid, or you have things like Bucha is there are probiotics in the Bucha as a base culture eat they actually have a probiotic in the Bucha is because they’re adding a separate isolated strain. By the definition of of Bucha, the microorganisms that are actually into Bucha thankfully do not meet the the classification for being a probiotic. And the only randomized human trial items, which did not indicate that it actually did not clearly demonstrate that a converted benefit to the consumer. So there’s, you know, so this is a this is the swirl and probe adequate. Meanwhile, prebiotics, there’s some complexity that you have to engage with on the manufacturing side, ensuring that you are putting the right prebiotics in at the right ratios. The you know, because of gastric distress, that you’re actually delivering the the payload and claim you are on your, on your, on your packaging. So there’s a lot of that kind of stuff that has to be worked through. But if you did it correct, I think it’s a more stable, more consistent way to provide benefits to the consumer. And you’re growing the native species that are already in the consumers microbiome. And so I think you have a much higher chance of actually getting those modified microbiome to stick around, versus a lot of the kind of transient nature that we typically see in the probiotic research.

Kara Goldin 15:50
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Ben Goodwin 19:17
Yeah, thanks for that question. I think it is. It’s, it’s an interesting one. It’s something certainly that even early days, it was we’d knew, Hey, there’s this nostalgia, this kind of like modern retro dynamic that we’re pursuing. But the journey has really evolved and it’s been super I mean 10 ish years ago or whatever in my prior beverage. OB you know, which was a for a man that didn’t have these kind of so that concept soups when I started exploring this kind of healthy soda angle. You know, like the, it was a pretty simple thought process. It was basically just I’ve seen a lot of These natural healthy products end up getting pretty, you know, maybe they weren’t for, you know, the West Coast. But then the second you tried to go put them in Ohio, the Walmart in Ohio, they fall on their face, right because of perceived elitism because of kind of product offerings that just make that are just way out of touch flavors that don’t make any sense. You know, just with that with that grouping. And so, the single bath that I’ve had in my head is, if I really care about the health of the American, customer, consumer and American society, my job is to create products that address the largest was possible and meet consumers where they are as much as I possibly can. So and just running the math, I mean, even kombucha now only has about 14% household penetration, whereas soda has 98% household penetration, right? I mean, you were talking about the scale of the global scale of the soda industry at the, at the top of the podcast. It’s massive, right. And the further you did this, I mean, I was so pleased, I was invited on to a discovery TV show called Americans message history of food. And this was like two and a half years ago, it’s a while back. And they’re like, we’re gonna talk about the history of, of so it’s gonna be the seventh episode of the show. And so I assumed they wanted me to talk about the history of soda. And that one, I kind of knew some stuff, but I didn’t know much. So I read three books on the history of sourdough on the leader to the interview, and it ended up going great, but I learned that Americans has this insane, fascinating history. We’ve shown it so deeply interwoven over the last 100 years dinner culture, it’s, I came to find out how deeply woven it is, individual identities of so many Americans. And it just really created this entirely new context around the concept of meeting people where they were, because we got a lot more depth. We found all sorts of more nuanced and kind of social and attachment oriented ways to drive that story, of which nostalgia is a key component. But it ends up when you start to unpack what that nostalgia means. You went to going on we’ve ended up going down this really interesting rabbit hole and it’s just made it like so much. So Rich.

Kara Goldin 22:29
Yeah, no, definitely. It’s it’s fascinating because it’s in many ways I mean, Coca Cola it’s no secret that started out as a health product and and you know, not so healthy but but you know, that they did their best I guess back in and the the days of starting Coca Cola, but it’s it’s really, really fascinating how, you know, even Yeah,

Ben Goodwin 22:57
well, you know, the federal government didn’t step in and say like, you can’t keep calling so that healthy until 1942. So and crazy for like, 6070 years. So it was absolutely viewed as a health time. And position that way in the United States states, despite the sugar spike the caffeine spike the cocaine.

Kara Goldin 23:20
That’s crazy. It’s just Yeah, it’s totally, totally crazy. So I’ve followed you know, a lot of these, the marketing of, of these brands, and my father had actually been in the food industry, and I had started a brand called Healthy Choice, which is, you know, feel to get hurt. Yeah. So, it’s now it’s, you know, started in the 70s and started Under Armour food company, and then ended up getting acquired by ConAgra. But anyway, he’s, he’s sort of at a very young age for me started schooling me on a lot of these, these different brands. And yeah, interesting. Yeah, it was really super fascinating. So anyway, getting back to ollie pop, so what are some of the biggest challenges you had, you’re, you’ve got this idea. You’ve been working in different beverage companies at the farmers markets, talking to consumers, you’ve seen that, you know, this is a drink that really is you’ve got this idea that you can scale it What was the first step? Did you take it to a farmers market? Or what was the first store that you actually took it to? Or did you go DTC? I mean, what was what was kind of the original model? Yeah,

Ben Goodwin 24:34
so for all I mean, you know, it’s been a it’s been a long journey, right? It’s like all the columns going through the roof. And that’s, and I’m so thrilled and honored around that. It’s also kind of the sentence at your your overnight success story. Right. So I would say that there’s so many lessons that have been learned along the way. And that is a part of the tapestry that, I think put us in a really good position to execute on the All your success and all the pups had in terms of lollipops specifically, so we started with technically the company is headquartered in Oakland, California. Ironically, myself, my business partner, both no longer lives in California, but we’ve got plenty staff there. And that’s where kind of our, we’re technically headquartered. But at the time, we were both living in Northern California, and we went and found this great little DSD called dairy delivery, I still remember we just gotten their cars and drove off. And we basically said, This is gonna be huge. This is the selling story. And they’re like, you could tell they liked us, you could tell that they were intrigued. And it was also there, they did what was responsible for the view, which is to say, Go sell some stores and be selling enough stores and start to distribute them. So that was the first I think they had wanted us to sell, like 100, stores, something like that. But I think they kind of took it easy on us. And when we hit something like 40 to 60 the content Okay, guys, cool. You know, we were believing more as we go, you guys did some stuff, some storage, source all that. And so we’ll just we’ll pick it up or Karen. And you know, fortunately for everybody, pretty much immediately, when the product hit the shelves, it started right that organic movement has from day one has always been something that we’ve experienced. So it was ended up being rewarding for them pretty quickly, and allowed us to start getting that critical data needed quickly, to then, you know, facilitate more sales.

Kara Goldin 26:34
Did your packaging look similar to what it is now?

Ben Goodwin 26:37
It did. Yeah, I mean, so humorously, during the r&d phase, Dave, and I source a branding packaging agency out of London, to do the first kind of swiping the product, and we’ve put 10s of 1000s, I think, all in I mean, I remember exactly, it was somewhere between 50 and $70,000. So it was expensive. We were taking the money that we had, you know, the not massive amount of money that we had our prior kind of muted exit. And we got all the way to the point where we had a mock up, right, so a lot of work that had gone into it, it can lock up. And we both slipped, and we’re like setting this on fire. Starting again, it just wasn’t the right fit. And we actually found a couple of guys out of Florida, who really understood what we were trying to do. Really like they had a really deep relationship with soda, that selves but they also understood we were trying to take it and that essential pack architecture has stayed with us. Through all of our students. We haven’t we haven’t materially shifted Packard picture at all from from day one.

Kara Goldin 27:53
So you obviously love innovation and creating flavors, you have an amazing array of of really fun flavors, what are some of the more most popular flavors that people tend to gravitate towards?

Ben Goodwin 28:05
Yeah. I actually do 100% of reformulation a lot. But so it’s a lot I mean, obviously advance right now are tough. So excuse tentative strawberry, closely followed by the colon. But it’s a little misleading, because those are also those three out of the four first flavors that we’ve launched. So part of its this, this was hilarious to me, as well as like, now some of our flavors are already becoming histologic for customers, which is like, it’s fun. And you see that? That kind of full circle, but you know, they also have the widest distribution. They have the kind of most entrenched fan base. So I believe we’re seeing some real, we’re seeing some real traction of the orange grape doesn’t really spiking up. Cream Soda is a really neat one, but it’s just actually blowing up the shelves. The charcoal is doing really well. But London limestone really well. So yeah, I mean that we’re seeing some horses pick up speed. So they’re not technically the highest selling flavors. But we’ll see like where it sits, you know, when we’ll see where it’s kind of lands in like three years. Do we still have this? These? Are the early players still kind of on top, or do we see more?

Kara Goldin 29:28
Yeah, definitely. No, I know what you mean. It’s hard to sort of differentiated because you’ve got different amounts of shelf space and different numbers of skews and these different stores and different types of retailers as well. So clubbed versus, you know, the more of the Whole Foods type of stores too. So what was your first store by the way? I didn’t. I didn’t catch that.

Ben Goodwin 29:53
Was I mean, I don’t. I was the first I think like the first one of the first bigger stores we had was rainbow markets go up in San Francisco. I think we did really well. Berkeley bowl, obviously, which is in Berkeley. I think one of the first chains we had was Molly stone. Right. So yeah.

Kara Goldin 30:17
Very similar are those were some of our first ones Whole Foods was our first one. And woodlands, actually wood market? Yeah.

Ben Goodwin 30:28
We were talking about Whole Foods. I don’t even know if they were letting us do store by store sell. And I, I think even back when we were talking about foods, we had to approach them on a region by region basis, but I don’t

Kara Goldin 30:41
so interesting. So you’ve got a big D to C presence. Today. There’s a lot of brands that have started nd to see some of those brands actually started during COVID totally made sense where they decided let’s just go for it. But I’m so curious, what was it that made you I mean, it’s a pretty big business for you guys on dt to see, I would guess. Yeah, well, so. So when at what point was that, that you decided, okay, we’ve, we’ve gotten a ton of traction on retail? Or was there another sort of thinking around DTC? Because I know, you know, there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that, especially before COVID are like, I don’t know if I should go DTC because I’m already on Amazon. So maybe it doesn’t make sense. But I think, you know, you you guys have sort of made that decision. What what is it that? Can you share on that? Yeah,

Ben Goodwin 31:41
I mean, for so we did, we did launch all a pod, or shortly after launching, we did build the DTC portion of the business, right. So that has always, but it had pretty minimal investment and focus, ironically, up until COVID, was, I think it was January or something of that year, February, when there were super early signals that, oh, this is, this is gonna be a thing. Oh, boy, it wasn’t a thing. But you know, back prior days, really knowing what was gonna happen, but having enough early signals that we knew it’s going to impact the situation, it’s not going to be like, do we have to build the DDC, we have to massively reinforce our TVC platform, like yesterday, because we don’t know how much in store shopping is going to be affected. But it’s definitely going to be affected, that we happen to be lucky, because we thought we were gonna have to build a DC section of the business to hit our revenue goals for the year. One of the happening, because we actually hit our retail revenue goals anyway. Because I think at that point, we were already seeing signs that the customers that we had, once they started consuming all the PA, they wanted it in their life. So we were this thing, this lucky subset of brands, and at the time, we didn’t know so terrifying. But as the year played out, we started to see this data set and also play Oh, wow, no people are, they’re only gonna store once a week, but they’re actually grabbing it up all popular. So that was to write because if you don’t know yet, if you’re a household item for impulse purchase, learning that your household item in COVID was a huge sigh of relief. And then the DC revenue actually ended up being on top of that, which is, which is very lucky for us. There was at the most extreme time period of code that was in full swing possible, our revenue was about 5050. Retail, and that’s where maxed out as for producing, now we’re gonna win our, like 1585 50% DC in terms of retail, which actually I feel so much better about. Because the reality is that retail really is a place where you want people finding your product, having that experience, learning about new new new flavors, it’s, it’s a great price for them to not pay for shipping. It’s a great place to drive trial. So and it’s a little more stable. And the reality is if you are indeed Disneyland, and all of a sudden your customer acquisition costs go through the roof, you’ve just blown your bowl, kind of your whole cost structure. And it’s you have very limited control over the direction that that will that will take to GDC brands always have that as an exposure point where if you can build a really healthy business and brick and mortar, there’s obviously still things that are outside of your control, but it tends to be more stable. And that’s, that’s good for February.

Kara Goldin 34:54
I always feel like the consumer stories are the best right? Especially for founders. I To tell my friends who have never met, they met like certain brands, but they’ve never written any stories to founders. I’m like, Look, that’s the, that’s the juice that keeps people going. Because it’s like, no, no, you’re, you’re doing the right thing. And not just to make people feel good. But I think also just to give them feedback, and etc, I’d love to hear if you’ve ever had a consumer story where, you know, maybe they told you about how the prebiotics and and just your drink in general was really hitting home for them. That really, really kind of left you saying, Okay, I’m doing the right thing. I’m doing what I was meant to be doing. Yeah,

Ben Goodwin 35:45
I mean, that’s a really, and the fact that you have that insight, right, is is a indicator your time to totally do so. Right? I mean, those are so uplifting. What’s tricky for us is, some of the customer communication that we get is mind blowing, like that, we can’t talk about 90% of it, because there’s a health department. Right, so people have many different, let’s just call it ailments that are quite serious. And the letters we get about the experiences, they had the kind of some of the some of the things that they’ve been able to do, very vague, but some of the experiences they’ve been able to have, while incorporating all about their lifestyle. I mean, there are things that are really, really, really moving. And you’re like, wow, we are, we are really making a difference. One that is a little that actually can share that was quite powerful, because it has less of an obvious, you know, health or disease state kind of attached to it is did have a woman who wrote into us, whose grandmother had just passed away recently passed away from state got stomach cancer. And when she was in hospice, for the last, you know, two to three months when she was in hospice, is very painful. So she couldn’t eat or drink anything. The only thing that she was able to actually consumed was all. And so there was this long period of time. And what they do is they bring her ruber who prepare, and, you know, and I mean, this is absolutely gut wrenching the email was just like, you know, the only time we saw her smile, in her last couple months of being live, is when she was drinking to root beer, and reminisce, and the root beer flavor, brought her back to all of these memories that she has had, as a little girl or as, as, you know, younger person consuming root beer. So there was this like real portal for these different these different memories. And now we all drink all the coffee with beer to remember for buy. Thank you so much for making this flavor. And I mean, just like, I mean, I absolutely I mean, I’m doing a disservice to how beautiful the email was actually written. Because you just got up the other side, have you read that thing? I cried. Because it’s so impactful. It was just like, not only did you know, this, all the layers do, right, I’ll let everybody impacted on layers to it. But you know, I think so stuff like that gives you a lot of fuel, it gives a team a lot of fuel, lets me know that you made a real a real difference. The fact that you were able to consider Molly problem, she doesn’t really say much else. It’s also very positive signal. But it also started to give us some of these early signals around. Wow, this relationship that people have with soda goes so much deeper than we anticipated. That was kind of that was some of the early signals that we started to get with stories like that from our customers that really defied expectations.

Kara Goldin 39:15
I love it. So what have you learned about raising money and investors in your journey? We’ve had a number of entrepreneurs on the podcast who have shared stories about bad investors and and then previous companies, you know, or very rarely do they talk about their existing companies actually, but, but how they can kind of ruin everything. But what is your criteria when you are looking for investors? And can you share a little bit more on that?

Ben Goodwin 39:47
Yeah, this is really great. I mean, you’re absolutely up without going into specifics. You’re absolutely correct, the wrong investor. Relationships can be extremely toxic to you Meet, you’ve definitely to make sure that kind of psychology’s aligned ethics are aligned, that there folks that don’t, that aren’t, there’s a lot of preparation that happens in the investment sphere. And it’s a tricky situation, because it’s a high risk investment, you know, and everybody needs to actually, look, there’s this, it’s got this going to certainly be tricky. And, you know, it is incumbent on the entrepreneur to ensure that they’re really making something as competitive and as attractive as possible to create as much demand as they can during your fundraising cycles. So that they have optionality to not only use them for them in terms of selecting the investor that feels the best in line versus just taking whatever they get, but also then does give them some sanity, in terms of the options around governance, right negotiation on governance, because at the end of the day, it boils down to what’s your board composition? What are the relevant amount of equity ownership? states? And what is your operating agreement look like? With? And what are the details that controls in the governance section and like, if you are raising money, don’t have your head wrapped around that, for the love of God, please find a really good lawyer that you can trust, and try to talk talk to that portion of the business. So that’s, so that’s like a, that’s a key, key piece. And when I just, you know, all off kind of went through a couple of phases. You know, I think the early phase, we’ve always been an attractive investment, we’ve we’ve always been lucky enough to be fairly oversubscribed. But still, as early business people are more wary, because it’s not proven and the risk is higher. And so I’d say like, when you’re very early on in your capital isn’t. I think it is really important to find people who actually take time to listen to you to listen to whatever, you know, and they’re, they don’t, you know, they don’t paint themselves as a savior that you must raise money from, because they’re the only one that can help you. That’s a good sign something toxic is coming. And people who will actually focus on the business and help you figure out, Hey, I like your idea, I’m actually hearing you out, is this business gonna work or not work? Let’s actually do a real exploration of that. And I’m trying to help bring some discipline into this equation, in the event that I believe in you, but I’m not 100% sure that you’re kind of bear with asking yourself a three dimensional questions you need to ask yourself, but really, like people will seem bought into the mission, and are a real advocates for you and the brand, but bring a real business folks in the equation. If you get some positive trajectory, the equation changes again, because now the people that used to just kind of be assholes, when you go ask them about money. Now they’re nice. So that changes again, I still think that kind of the basic parameters are still important to track though, which is, are they kind of hitting you with EEG? Like, first of all, we need you back channeling on your investors need to figure out like, do they end up seemingly bizarrely taking majority control of the company a lot? Or do they have a partnership have a good track record? Or a real partnership? Do they bring it along with their own people and really impact the culture? Or do they let the operators make independent decisions around how they build the business? Like, those are important things you want to go poke around on? And I think as well, anyone, if you having some success, anybody who makes it about you, as the entrepreneur, or tries to hit you from the ego build angle, I would stay away from, because the people who make it about you and the people who make and try to build up your ego are the same people who will use those tools to break you down when things aren’t going well. And that’s not that’s the type so but people who are still quite mission driven, quite actually focused on the business. And, you know, are able to kind of articulate emotional intelligence to through your interactions, then those are going to be the right that you does, that’s a higher chance that you can have the right part. Yeah,

Kara Goldin 44:09
and I think the one other thing I would add to what you’re saying, I totally agree with what you’re saying is that they should love your product or service. Right? I mean, if they don’t really get it, right, like maybe you’ve got somebody who’s very interested in investing in your company, but just doesn’t really isn’t that interested in prebiotics or gut health? Or they’re, they’re like, you know, Ben, like, this is all a bunch of garbage. Right? You do not want those investors in your product. Yeah, I think that that’s such a such a key key thing. Well, this is we could I could talk to you for hours. You are absolutely incredible. Oh, and we’ll have all of the info in the show notes to all about all a pop. But thank you so much for coming on Ben and sharing your inspiration and wisdom with everybody. And again, super nice to meet you and everybody needs to go out and try ollie pop. And thank you again.

Ben Goodwin 45:19
Thanks, Kara. Really appreciate being here.

Kara Goldin 45:22
Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review. And feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen or pick up a copy of my book undaunted, which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and good bye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening