Taste Radio Episode 169

What Makes an Idea ‘Innovative’?


In this highlight episode culled from interviews with six innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs who joined us on Taste Radio during the first half of 2019, we explore the role that innovation plays several for category-leading brands. Our guests include Vita Coco co-founder Mike Kirban, Lifeway Foods CEO Julie Smolyansky, Justin’s founder Justin Gold, Sailor Jerry Rum and Hendricks Gin creator Steve Grasse and WTRMLN WTR co-founder Jody Levy. This episode is presented by BevSource, an integrated provider of beverage development, production, sourcing, and logistics solutions to new and established beverage visionaries.

In this Episode

1:36: Justin Gold, Founder, Justin’s — We kick off the episode with Justin Gold, who we featured in Episode 153. Gold is the founder of Justin’s, a pioneering maker of better-for-you nut butters and snacks that was acquired by Hormel Foods for $286 million in 2016. In the following clip, Gold shared his perspective on the keys to innovation and improving the food system, the first thing he tells new entrepreneurs and the way he wants consumers to perceive Justin’s.
7:51: Jody Levy, Co-Founder, WTRMLN WTR — Next up is Jody Levy, the co-founder of beverage brand WTRMLN WTR. An artist and serial entrepreneur, Levy has overseen the evolution of WTRMLN WTR from a single product to a platform brand that sells products at over 25,000 locations nationwide. In this clip from Episode 155, she discussed the similarities between art and entrepreneurship and chronicled the history between her brand and music icon Beyonce, who is an investor in WTRMLN WTR.
14:45: Steve Grasse, Creator, Sailor Jerry Rum/Hendricks Gin — We continue with Steve Grasse, the creator of iconic spirit brands Sailor Jerry Rum and Hendricks Gin. In a clip from our interview, which we featured in Episode 144, Steve spoke about the influence that bands have on his creative process and why an early focus group that panned the initial idea for Hendrick’s Gin turned out to be a good thing. 
18:56:  Julie Smolyansky, CEO, Lifeway Foods — We continue with Julie Smolyansky, the CEO of Lifeway Foods, a pioneering brand of kefir drinks. In this clip, pulled from Episode 147, Julie spoke about why Lifeway was one of the first brands to market the health benefits of probiotics and discussed how she dealt with the criticism and pressure that came with taking on the role of CEO at a relatively young age.
24:11: Chieh Huang, Co-Founder/CEO, Boxed — From an interview included in Episode 152, Chieh Huang, the co-founder and CEO of online bulk retailer Boxed, discussed the evolution of mobile and e-commerce and explained why he believes the future of online food shopping “will feel like Netflix.”
29:57: Mike Kirban, Co-Founder/CEO, Vita Coco — Last, but certainly not least, we have Mike Kirban, the co-founder and CEO of coconut water powerhouse Vita Coco. As part of an interview featured in Episode 164, Mike discussed why he takes a hands-on approach in his day-to-day leadership of the company, why he hires based on attitude, why he’s looking at potential brand acquisitions “all the time,” and his belief that Vita Coco can be the “better-for-you beverage company for the next generation.”

Also Mentioned

Justin’s, WTRMLN WTR, Sailor Jerry Rum, Hendricks Gin, Lifeway Foods, Vita Coco