Greg says he’s hoping to increase the staff fivefold over the next two years.
Amara Beverages founder Greg Connolly was a multi-time entrepreneur, having founded and sold two software businesses in his life.
His second software company developed shipping and warehouse software, and in developing it he worked a lot with beverage companies, there he learned what went in behind the scenes. Living a fitness lifestyle (and married to a physician) he was mortified to see what was going into energy drinks and sports drinks. That inspired him to start Amara, and create sports and energy drinks made only from fruits, berries, and natural ingredients.
He started to carve out a new space in the sports drink category. Many people think traditional sports drinks are healthy, but they have some of the highest sugar, which is totally counterintuitive with people trying to get healthy and back into shape. All eyes are on sugar now as the major cause of obesity in America.
Greg and his team did 8 months of R&D before producing their first sports drink. He hired a branding company to help them with their logo and branding; and revamped the packaging. Beyond their initial success with Whole Foods, they started to look at the fitness industry as a target market, and determined Cross-Fit was the best partner. They also targeted natural food stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts — and sales shot up. But, they were still biting off pieces of a $6.5 billion market while competing against Gatorade and Powerade.
After reaching this initial success, Greg came to BusinessAdvising.org for further business advice. We linked up with Scott Allan, one of our marketing gurus, who linked Greg with Brad Barnhorn (a deep consumer package foods guy) who’s helped Greg make inroads into aspects of that market, as well as boosting their fundraising strategies.
BusinessAdvising.org also connected him to some angel investors. “There’s a lot of value you guys bring to entrepreneurs,” Greg said. They’re still relatively small with just 8 employees (up from 4 six months ago), but they’re hoping to start rapidly scaling. In fact, Greg says he’s hoping to increase the staff fivefold over the next two years.
Amara is a triple bottom line company and a B-corp. Greg himself sits on a nonprofit board for the Clean Oceans Collaborative. He evangelizes plant-based plastics and packaging. Greg says in addition to building his business, he’s targeting the two main problems caused by the beverage industry itself: getting America in shape and cleaning up the plastic.