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Suja Juice

A surfer dude, a yoga instructor, a Harvard guy and a nightclub owner have created "one of the fastest growing beverage companies ever," reports J.J. Colao in Forbes (2/10/14). What started seven years ago as "a restaurant and juice-delivery service" called Blissfull, has grown within the past 18 months into a juggernaut called Suja Juice expected to do "$50 million in sales" in 2014. It all started when the surfer dude, Eric Ethans, walked into the La Jolla Yoga Center to drop off bottles of his cold-pressed juice, and met a yoga instructor, Annie Lawless.

This apparently was love at first cleanse, and the two began making juice together and hand-delivering their product. "They were literally taking the product into people’s homes and putting it into their refrigerators for them," says Jeff Church, a Harvard Business School grad, who met Ethan and Annie through James Brennan, a nightclub owner. James discovered their juice when his pregnant wife started buying it, and became a customer himself. "I was pretty intrigued by something that cost 11 bucks and didn’t have vodka in it," he says.

James and Jeff soon put about a million dollars into the venture, and Jeff found a way to improve the product’s shelf life without pasteurizing it or affecting its flavor, enabling broader distribution. The brand name was changed to Suja, which means "long, beautiful life" in Hindi. After Whole Foods placed an order, operations moved to "the third-floor ice closet" at James’s nightclub. The company "now produces 250,000 bottles each week" for Whole Foods, Kroger and Safeway. The Suja line now spans 20 flavors, and the company is valued at about $150 million.