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TikTok star Josh Richards on growing the Ani Energy brand

In this article:
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Josh Richards, Social Media Star and Entrepreneur, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss Ani Energy's growth and it’s expansion into 400 Walmart locations across the United States.

Video Transcript

JULIA LA ROCHE: Well, cans of energy drink Ani Energy will be hitting a Walmart near you. We are joined now by social media star and entrepreneur Josh Richards, who has more than 38-- 38 million-- sorry-- 38 million followers across your social media channels. And Josh, you just got a deal with Walmart. Your energy drink, Ani Energy, will be available at 400 locations. Talk to us about this deal and why you were thinking about Walmart for distribution here.

JOSH RICHARDS: Yeah, of course. I mean, I think when I've looked at the massive volume that I've been able to really get a grip on, on that core audience, it's been able to serve as a golden tool when I want to go out and create these companies and really give them that leverage or that built-in audience, almost, right off the bat. And I mean, the reason I'm doing this and I started doing this is because I want current and future creators to follow in the same footsteps when they get into the business.

And for Walmart, I think it was the perfect company because that's where I [INAUDIBLE] the perfect distribution because that's where I was going as a kid. That's the place that me and my friends looked forward to going with our parents, grabbing that one treat you might got when your parents went and brought you shopping. So it was a little bit of that nostalgia for me. And then at the same time, that the amount of different stores they have across North America.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Well--

BRIAN SOZZI: Josh, how do you get to a Walmart?

JOSH RICHARDS: Pardon me?

BRIAN SOZZI: How do you get into a Walmart?

JOSH RICHARDS: Yes, so through the process, we actually were able to just talk with some of the people that are at the distri-- that handle the distribution at Walmart. We were able to show them the drink, talk to them last summer, and just really start that conversation. They wanted to see a little bit of where Ani would go and the power that Ani had.

But like we did right outside of the shop, right, when Ani was first released there, you got to see that there were 700 to thousands of people that were just outside waiting to line up and buy this energy drink. So I think a little bit of that FOMO we were able to impose on these distributors like Walmart when we were able to get in some of the smaller distributors at the start really got these people interested in the drink.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Well, I mentioned 38 million followers across your social media platforms, Josh. And you certainly have a business mindset. I know we've talked about this in the way you approach deals. Help us understand how you translate your online persona and brand into your business ventures, whether it's your investments or even starting a company, like Ani Energy.

JOSH RICHARDS: Yeah, I mean, there's many different ways that we're able to leverage the following and really have it help out on the entrepreneurial side if that is bring them in and having them be a customer of the product or if that's having them give their opinion along the way when we were founding this product. We have an audience that we know we need to speak to. So no one knows what they want more than they do, right? So that's essentially how we've been able to really utilize this audience.

BRIAN SOZZI: Josh, what is it like for you going up toe to toe, essentially, with some really big heavyweights-- Monster, Red Bull? I think the Rock's new energy drink, ZOA, they might be in Walmart, too, as well.

JOSH RICHARDS: Yeah, no, I mean, it's exciting. We love a challenge. That's what we continue to do, is keep proving these bigger and bigger people [INAUDIBLE] they really think that we're not going to be able to step out of the place that we came from. And I think that Ani also isn't just like a lot of these other energy drinks. It's 6 grams of-- it has only 6 grams of sugar and 30 grams of calories, where a lot of these other companies are usually in that 30, 60 standard. And it's not the same amount of caffeine. It's a lot lower it's a little bit higher than your average Diet Coke or pop. So with this caffeine, it's able to stay really a great drink and something you can drink in the morning or at night.

JULIA LA ROCHE: I don't know what you can reveal to us, but help us understand the power of the platforms that you're on. And when you post something about Ani Energy, the kind of reaction you get-- I suppose you might see an uptick in sales. Help us-- kind of take us inside that. What is that like?

JOSH RICHARDS: Of course. I mean, there's a lot of different reasons why we're posting it. Sometimes it's to get the name out for just name and brand awareness. Sometimes it's to translate right to sales on the website.

But the one part that's been really interesting is because I've been posting about Ani and having my fans almost give their opinion on the drink and really feel a part of the product as it's being made, as it was being made last summer before it even came out in stores, when it was just D2C, and really listening to their feedback and changing little things because they gave their opinion on it, it really created this feeling where it was everyone's energy drink. It wasn't just mine. It was also the following's. It was also Bryce's following's energy drink. And I think that's what really connected a lot of these people to the drink and made them feel like a part of it.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Well, Josh Richards, social media star and entrepreneur and founder of Ani Energy, we'll look for that at our neighborhood Walmart.