Paul Voge, the co-founder and CEO of artisanal sparkling water brand Aura Bora, wasn’t too worried about his first large scale production run.
Aura Bora, which markets zero-calorie sparkling waters infused with herbs and botanicals, was born out of Voge’s belief that an opportunity existed for an artisanal option within the carbonated water category. If, however, the brand failed to get off the ground, Voge, a prolific sparkling water consumer himself, was comfortable with the idea of having a personal stash of 35,000 cans to drink over the next few decades.
Thankfully, Aura Bora has resonated among category consumers, and over the past two years the Colorado-based company has expanded beyond its original focus on the natural channel and ecommerce and into conventional retail stores. Its drinks are now available at 3,000 locations, including nationally at Sprouts, and are also sold at 7-Eleven and Raley’s along with Harris Teeter and United Supermarket, chains operated by Kroger and Albertsons, respectively.
In an interview featured in this episode, Voge, who co-founded Aura Bora with his wife Maddie, explained how he attempted to differentiate the brand from other sparkling water brands in name, package design and formulation, why he was inspired by artisanal food brands, the clever way he landed a meeting with a Whole Foods buyer; and how his pricing strategy was ahead of the curve for premium sparkling water. He also discussed his tension-filled, yet ultimately successful, experience on “Shark Tank,” why investors were at ease with an evolution of Aura Bora’s retail strategy, why acquiring sales data has been critical to the brand’s development and how he’s attracted industry veterans for key roles.
In this Episode
|0:46: Paul Voge, Co-Founder/CEO, Aura Bora – Voge and Taste Radio editor Ray Latif riffed on the entrepreneur’s cap collection and experience at Expo West 2022, hand-canning Aura Bora’s first products and the impact of launching the brand a couple months before the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. He also spoke about what attracted retail buyers to the brand, what he and Maddie wanted to convey in the label and package design, the thoughtful approach to naming the brand and how functional beverages factored into Aura Bora’s pricing strategy. Later, Voge explained why Aura Bora is attempting to “own” a subset of sparkling water, how he indirectly met Whole Foods buyer, utilizing data and information from online sales to support innovation, R&D and marketing and his wild ride on “Shark Tank.” Voge also discussed why buying SPINS data has been a valuable investment, why the hire of a sales director made him realize that “he was driving without glasses,” and why, despite the many uncertainties of running a beverage company, it’s important to have a plan.|
Aura Bora, Sanzo, LaCroix, Polar Seltzer, Poland Spring, Jeni’s, Van Leeuwen, Salt & Straw, Kettle Chips, RxBar, Waterloo, Topo Chico, JoJo’s Creamery, Hoplark, Liquid Death, KIND Snacks, Pipcorn, Genius Juice, Harmless Harvest, Voss, Super Coffee, GT’s Kombucha