Taste Radio Episode 174

The Beverage Whisperer: Ken Sadowsky


When offering his take on the man affectionately nicknamed “The Beverage Whisperer,” Vita Coco co-founder/CEO Mike Kirban might have said it best: “I don’t believe there is anyone in the beverage world that needs a reference letter less than Ken Sadowsky.”

As one of the industry’s best known and most respected insiders, Sadowsky is a longtime investor and advisor to many high-profile and category leading brands, including Vitaminwater, Vita Coco, Bai, Hint and Califia Farms. He’s also a senior advisor to Verlinvest, a Belgium-based investment holding company founded by the owners of Anheuser-Busch InBev, and the Executive Director of NIDA, a group of independent beverage distributors in the Northeast. 

In an interview included in this episode, he spoke about his background in the business and how he assesses opportunities to align with and invest in early stage brands. He also offered his perspective on leadership, why he believes that entrepreneurs should be wary of indecisiveness and shared his thoughts on notable categories and emerging trends.

In this Episode

2:33: Interview: Ken Sadowsky, The Beverage Whisperer — Sadowsky sat down with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif and BevNET CMO Mike Schneider at BevNET HQ for a conversation that began with Sadowsky recounting the early days of his career working at his family’s distribution company. He also spoke about his investment strategy, why it’s occasionally a “Ready. Fire. Aim.” approach and why “by the end of the evaluation period, it’s much more about the person than the product.” Later, he discussed his involvement with Bai, spoke about the role of decisiveness and confidence as a characteristic of good leaders and why standing out on shelf is a requirement of package design. Finally, he reflected on past and present trends, including why CBD could be promoted as “anti-energy,” and the rise of “sober curious” beverages.

Also Mentioned

California Cooler, Bartles & Jaymes, Zima, Hint, Bai, Vita Coco, Vitaminwater, Sambazon, Essentia, Forto, Califia Farms, Kona Red, Red Bull, Monster Energy, Coco Cafe, GURU Energy, Dark Dog Energy, Runa, Guayaki, TeaRIOT, Marley’s Mellow Mood, Just Chill, GoodBelly, Riazul, Corina’s Switchy, Seedlip