Taste Radio Episode 164

Vita Coco: Mike Kirban


Mike Kirban is unquestionably one of the most successful beverage entrepreneurs of all time, but if our interview with him offers any indication, his legacy is far from complete.

Since co-founding Vita Coco in 2004, Kirban has guided the brand to domination in the coconut water space. Distributed over four continents, Vita Coco holds a 26 percent share of the global market for coconut water, which is estimated to be worth $2.5 billion, according to market research firm Euromonitor. Success has attracted many suitors over the years — PepsiCo was reportedly in talks to acquire the brand in 2017 — yet Vita Coco has remained independent, a key component of Kirban’s plan to build upon the company’s foundation and develop a beverage platform focused on better-for-you brands.

“My goal over the next couple of years is to have four or five totally unique brands in-house under (Vita Coco parent company) All Market Inc. that play in different sub-segments of this healthier, functional drinks market,” Kirban said. “Coke and Pepsi are really good at certain things, and they’ve done quite a lot of M&A in this functional beverage space, but their share of better-for-you beverages continues decline. It’s not what they’re good at. It’s not what they’re focused on. I believe that opens up this lane for us to just drive right through as we should be the ones who really create the better-for-you beverage company for the next generation.”

Within our wide-ranging interview, Kirban also discussed his leadership style, why he hires based on attitude over skill set and how Vita Coco considers innovation and potential acquisitions. He also explained what motivates him to personally invest in brands, and why living close to his office is key to work-life balance. This episode is presented by ZoomEssence, the cool-tech powder flavor people.

In this Episode

2:43: Interview: Mike Kirban, Co-Founder/CEO, Vita Coco — In an interview recorded at Vita Coco headquarters in New York City, Taste Radio editor/producer Ray Latif spoke with Kirban about the development of the coconut water brand and why he believes “inexperience served [him] well” over the years. He also discussed why he takes a hands-on approach in his day-to-day leadership of the company, how confidence plays into that role, and why Vita Coco offers unlimited vacation to its employees. Later, Kirban explained that you “have to be willing to make mistakes” when considering innovation, why he’s looking at potential brand acquisitions “all the time,” how he missed out on investing in Bai and why he sold his stock in Amazon in 2000.

Also Mentioned

Vita Coco, Runa, WhistlePig, Sir Kensington’s, Beanfields, Zico, Bai, Red Bull