“I have a clear goal to double the size of the business in the next three years,” said Mike Kirban, CEO and co-founder of coconut water brand Vita Coco, speaking at BevNET Live Summer 2018 last week.
That’s an ambitious target for a company which recorded sales of over $201 million for its core coconut water line as of January 2018, according to market research group IRI. But what’s more revealing about the journey of Vita Coco was Kirban’s claim that, compared to building the company from scratch, doubling the size of the business will be “easy.”
In this interview with BevNET founder and CEO John Craven, Kirban traced how Vita Coco evolved from a scrappy startup attempting to introduce coconut water to the U.S. market into a influential leader in the new category they helped create. Reflecting on the brand’s beginnings, he credited the pressure of competing with fellow upstarts like Zico and O.N.E. for molding the company’s entrepreneurial mindset, and for helping legitimize coconut water as a viable new beverage category.
But as the company grew, new challenges arose. Kirban opened up about the infamous “Squid Gate” controversy in 2017 and how the company (and he personally) rebounded from what he called “an attack on our quality.” He also discussed how a rapidly growing Vita Coco manages investor expectations, how he deals with the constant rumors of a imminent sale of the company, and how he maintains an entrepreneurial culture as Vita Coco moves towards its goal of being the world’s “biggest better-for-you beverage company,” thanks in part to a unique personnel policy.
For the full discussion with Mike Kirban, click the video above.