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OLIPOP soda by design is a bit of ’trojan horse’: Co-Founder

In this article:
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David Lester and Ben Goodwin, OLIPOP Co-Founders, join Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the benefits of OLIPOP soda and how it compares to competitors.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: Going to shift gears, and we're going to turn the light on a small business. Now in New England, they call it soda. In the Midwest, they call it pop. And down South, they just say it's soft drink. But the latest wonderful taste that you can get is coming from OLIPOP Soda. And we want to introduce you to the co-founders, David Lester and Ben Goodwin.

And here's something I don't think a lot of people consider when they reach for a can of-- I'm going to say pop after living many years in the Midwest-- is that in the average can of soda, you get 39 grams of sugar. In your soda, you get 2 to 5 grams of sugar. What else did you guys decide to create, David, in bringing OLIPOP to market?

DAVID LESTER: Well, I think with this product, what we were looking to do was to really meet the consumer where they are. And, you know, people love soda. It's nostalgic. It's delicious. It's refreshing. But fundamentally, it has too much sugar. And it doesn't do anything for our health. So Ben does all of our formulation in-house. And, you know, he's created incredible product that not only tastes delicious, you know, it delivers on all the aspects that people love about soda, but also, you know, instead of damaging people's health, actually supports digestive health in a really meaningful way.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I really like the packaging, too, and the vintage look that you guys have going on. Ben, I want to talk to you about price. Because, you know, we pay more for organic. It seems like there's a trend. We pay more when things are healthier for us in general. What about the price of OLIPOP soda compared to, I'm going to call it regular or traditional sodas on the market?

BEN GOODWIN: Yeah, I mean, it's a bit higher. It comes in at $2.49 for a standard can. We promo down to two for 4. You know, there's a-- anytime you're kind of engaging with the consumer, it's understanding-- it's important that they understand the value, right? So we're not producing billions of units. We're not subsidized by the government. We're not using high fructose corn syrup. There's a lot of very high quality ingredients that have been very carefully selected and reviewed by our scientific advisory board that go into the product, which intrinsically have a cost associated with them.

So in the future, there might be some opportunities to bring the price down to a certain extent. We're reserved, kind of looking at that lever over time. But currently, when you consider just the cost to make the product and to get a really high quality product out to market, the value is what is basically being translated in our cost structure.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Ben, when we hear David talking about meeting the consumer where they're at, I mean, your product has fiber. I don't think a lot of people, when they're reaching for a can of Pepsi or Coke, are thinking, how much fiber does this have? Because that can of Pepsi and Coke doesn't have any fiber. So clearly, this is working. Why put fiber in soda?

BEN GOODWIN: Phenomenal question. I mean, you know, one of-- sorry about that. One of the issues, actually, with Coke and Pepsi and a lot of these mainstream sodas is they're-- one of the ways I like to conceptualize them is they're basically liquid cake in a can. So that's going to have pretty profound negative health consequences for all sorts of different aspects of your health and your body.

And fiber, actually, interacts with the body in almost the oppositional way that sugar does. So if you have a product that's low in sugar and high in fiber, you should actually see stabilization of the insulin response. A lot of the kind of issues that you might typically see consuming something that has no fiber and has high sugar, you'd expect to be offset.

So the goal behind OLIPOP is it's really by design, it is a bit of a Trojan horse, right? We're taking something that typically causes people-- it's exciting. It's a fun flavor. It's a very compelling nostalgic flavor. And there's nothing wrong with the fact that people love it. But what we're looking to do is actually put something that actually reacts in the body in a very oppositional way to traditional soda, but put it inside of that soda format to make the conversion much easier for consumers.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I want you guys to talk to me a little bit about your spokesperson. Because I know that you have brought on the former SportsCenter anchor, Kenny Mayne, as your spokesperson for this product. Why was Kenny the right person to do that?

DAVID LESTER: Kenny's a really interesting and authentic spokesperson for us. He actually reached out. He used to drink a couple of sodas a day and discovered OLIPOP and actually switched over. And, you know, I think his wife had been on him for a while that he needed to get off soda. And he was, you know, really pleased to find a solution like this and kind of reached out to us. And we spoke. And I think within 24 hours, we were in the process of making an ad with him.

And, you know, for us, he's a great vehicle to reach a broader audience. A lot of the natural products industry has kind of been trapped in, you know, a younger millennial target. And, you know, Kenny speaks to a wide range of people across, you know, a lot of different audiences. So, you know, he'll be one of the many spokespeople that we work with over the coming years, I would say.

ADAM SHAPIRO: And the fact that you've got shelf space at Whole Foods speaks volumes. One of our producers while we've been having this discussion has said that your flavor of ginger lemon is where it's at. Personally, I'm going for the root beer. We wish you all the best, the co-founders of OLIPOP.