Meet the Founders: Ben Goodwin and David Lester of OLIPOP
Ben Goodwin and David Lester believe that life is too short not to be enjoyed and too long to be spoiled. So, instead of soda, they created OLIPOP — a healthier way to indulge sweet cravings without sacrificing health.
OLIPOP is a thoughtful tonic made from wholesome ingredients, rather than hefty spoonfuls of sugar. The end result tastes like the soda we all know and love, but with the added benefit of microbiome and digestive health support. Every carefully-crafted can contains plant fiber, prebiotics, and botanicals with minimal sugar and no artificial sweeteners.
While Ben and David focus on the microbiome, they’re truly driven by their macro philosophy. By respecting and nourishing the life within us, the OLIPOP founders believe that the larger world will repay us in kind. The same, they say, goes for our neighbors, the environment, and the planet at large.
Recently, we caught up with Ben to learn more about his journey and hear his advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start OLIPOP?
I’ve been invested in the power of nutrition since going through my own transformative dietary journey as a teenager. When people feel healthy, they lead more productive and rich lives. I think that’s an experience that should be available to everyone.
OLIPOP is designed to support microbiome and metabolic health with an accessible, tasty soda that meets people where their tastes are. Meanwhile, David and I were business partners on a prior beverage venture and we always worked well together. He was the perfect person to help me launch OLIPOP.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
Building a quickly growing company — especially in the beverage industry — is a very intense experience that has very little room for mistakes or failure. You have to learn lessons and proactively get ahead of problems at a breakneck pace.
In order to do that, you have to surround yourself with the right people who can help build your vision. Naturally, it can be pretty stressful. It takes a while to learn how to roll with the punches and keep your psychology in the right space.
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
There are so many! I’m sure I will write a book one day. But, in the meantime:
- Entrepreneurship is a journey of personal growth and emotional intelligence. I don’t recommend this path if you are not ready to grow as a person by facing your fears and limitations.
- Have a mission that you believe in deeply (beyond money) that you can leverage to keep yourself going and inspire others to come work with you. Ensure the mission can be accomplished, even with some pivots. This way, you have flexibility to implement real feedback from your consumers and the overall market.
- Make sure your product has organic traction with customers. You can’t rely solely on your engineering ability or education if you want your product to be successful.
- Once that’s established, ensure that your margins work and that your product can scale. Then, find the best people for each phase of your business and build a culture that empowers trust and alignment.
04What’s on the horizon for OLIPOP?
We’ve got a bunch of great new flavors coming out! I worked very hard on them and I’m really excited to share them with everyone.
We will also be investing in fresh marketing as we spread OLIPOP to new markets across the country. For us, it’s all about getting OLIPOP into the hands of people that would really benefit from it.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Work/life balance is very difficult when you are growing like we are, but it’s very important. At minimum, you need an aggressive self-care routine. Ideally, one that includes sleep, exercise, healthy diet, meditation/reflection, and mental health resources. Entrepreneurs tend to get burned out and experience mental health events — that’s often swept under the rug. However, once you get a good team in place, you can slowly increase your time off until you achieve a better balance.
I’m inspired by our ability to improve upon the status quo. We have the power to create a better world — it just takes tons of work and maturation over time. OLIPOP enables me to take real action and express myself, a true gift that brings real meaning to my life.