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EXCLUSIVE: OLIPOP CEO on Latest Funding Round, New Products

Functional soda brand OLIPOP recently raised $30 million in a financing round that included several celebrity investors.

The Food Institute spoke with co-founder and CEO Ben Goodwin to learn more about the company’s product development and what it plans to do with its newly raised funds.

Below are excerpts from the conversation.

For those unfamiliar with OLIPOP, what can you tell us about your products, and where can they be found?

OLIPOP is a new kind of soda, with less than 50 calories and 2-5g of sugar per can. We also boast an impressive 9g of fiber made from digestion-healthy prebiotics and botanical extracts that we completed successful in-vitro research on at Purdue University and Baylor College of Medicine. All that said, we taste just like a regular soda, full-flavored and refreshing. Right now, we are in around 10,000 stores (WFM, Sprouts, Kroger, Target) and that number will approximately double this year.

What will OLIPOP use its new funding for?

This year is about pushing into a much larger swath of accounts, including mass and conventional retailers across the country, so the capital will lend itself to that. Primarily that means headcount, marketing, supply chain/co-packing, and more R&D.

It seems you’ve expanded your product selection a lot since you last spoke with The Food Institute – what can you tell us about your new flavors and variety packs?

Definitely true! We’ve been looking to really target soda experiences for our customers. Our Classic Grape, Orange Squeeze, and Orange Cream (a WFM exclusive) all really ladder up to that. We are also rolling out multipacks (4 packs to start) of some of our customer’s favorite flavors (Strawberry Vanilla and Root Beer) so people can grab a couple of cans at a time for convenience.

Are there any new product flavors in development that you can tell us about?

Yes, we’ve got a TON in development right now that I’m really excited about. This year and next year will be big on that front. We’ll have more to share within the next few months! I recommend people sign up for our text list on drinkolipop.com for early peeks and access to new flavors!

Recent reports indicate the Jonas Brothers, Mindy Kaling, and Gwyneth Paltrow were among your new investors. Why do you think these celebrities are interested in your brand?

A number of the celebrity investors who came into this round are actual organic consumers of the product who also recognize the economic opportunity of OLIPOP, so it’s a win-win. It’s always been really important to us that we are not just paying off celebs to “endorse” products they don’t really believe in because it leads to a weaker outcome and feels inauthentic to everyone.