Taste Radio Insider Episode 58

The Path From Niche To Mainstream

+ Kelly Heekin & Ben Schmidt, Co-Founders, Hoist


In this episode, we’re joined by Kelly Heekin and Ben Schmidt, the co-founders of premium hydration beverage brand Hoist, who discussed their strategy for mainstreaming a niche concept.

Founded in 2009, Hoist was developed to be a more palatable version of Pedialyte, which in recent years has attracted a following among adults who use the products as rapid-hydration recovery drinks. Heekin and Schmidt said that while Hoist was ahead of its time, they were willing to be patient and wait for the market to catch up to the opportunity.

“To be successful in this industry, you have to have the staying power and the ability to adapt,” Schmidt said. “It’s not going to be an overnight success, that’s for sure.”

The co-founders explained how they incubated the brand for years in their backyard of Cincinnati, which allowed them to learn from mistakes before embarking on a national launch. That strategy is bearing fruit: Hoist is currently available in 10,000 retail locations across the U.S.

As part of our interview, Heekin and Schmidt spoke about the genesis of Hoist and how they communicated their vision to stakeholders. They also explained why they haven’t taken any outside capital and how the brand has won placement and a loyal following at military retail stores.

In this Episode

1:40: Martín, Maradona and Mad Tasty — The hosts discussed a new documentary about legendary soccer player Diego Maradona, whether Mike’s blue sweater made him look more like Jason Seaver or Fred Rogers, and a canned negroni that everyone seemed to like. They also spoke about why some brands are using the word “hemp” in place of CBD, the rise of caffeinated sparkling waters, and how to meet everyone that you’d want to meet at BevNET Live.
15:55: Interview: Kelly Heekin and Ben Schmidt, Co-Founders, Hoist — In an interview recorded at the 2019 National Association of Convenience Stores show, Heekin and Schmidt spoke with Taste Radio editor Ray Latif about how seeing Pedialyte consumed on NFL sidelines spurred the creation of Hoist, and the timing of the brand’s launch. They also discussed Hoist’s initial positioning as a hangover recovery drink and its eventual revamp and why most consumers don’t care about the science behind functionality. Later, they explained how they attracted two industry heavyweights to join their board, and how they built a strong presence at U.S. military bases.

Also Mentioned

Tip Top Cocktails, Mad Tasty, Ugly Drinks, Sunshine Beverage Co., Hiball, Guru Energy, Hoist, Essentia, Pedialyte, Gatorade, Powerade, BodyArmor, Starbucks, Aquahydrate