Interview with Joe Warne, CEO of IONIK Beverages

Interview with Joe Warne, CEO of IONIK Beverages


What inspired you to build your beverage company?

IONiK was created out of a desire to fill a gap in the beverage category for a natural sports hydration beverages. Not everyone likes coconut water! We have kept to the more fruity and refreshing flavor profiles, but without the artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners.

How did you come up with the idea?

Concentrace ( ionic trace minerals) out of the Great Salt Lake has been a favorite ingredient for over 10 years. We felt it would make an exceptional addition to a sport beverage, going above and beyond what current products offer. The B &C panel was added for marketability and the energy/antioxidant component. We had an existing relationship with Tate&Lyle, using their Pure Monkfruit added another level of natural to the product while keeping the calories low. The trio of sweeteners – stevia, monkfruit and sucrose create a flavor profile with no aftertaste or bitterness often associated with zero calorie products. The name evolved out of Ionic trace minerals that are contained within the product.

What are yours and your partner’s backgrounds?

Joe comes from a background in cosmetic and dietary supplement manufacturing for over 20 years. Maria has spent her entire career within the natural products industry, working for companies such as Vitamin Shoppe and Whole Foods Market. Together we owned Indigo Labs, a contract manufacturing company specializing in liquid dietary supplements. Indigo was responsible for the formulation of some of the bestselling and award winning liquid supplements in the natural market place.

When did you create the company?

The corporation was formed in March of 2013. Product development was in process for two years prior to that.

What makes your product unique in the market?

Natural Sports Beverage! Hydration with over 72 Ionic Trace Minerals. Tastes amazing – has 10% coconut water but does not taste like coconut water. No caffeine.

What is your ideal target consumer?

25-65, Male or Female, active and healthy lifestyle and nutrition awareness.

Who best identifies your consumer?

I consider our customer to be health savvy. They shop at WFM, Trader Joes, Sprouts. They exercise, make healthier choices and want something more than plain water. They like functionality and benefits.

Where is your product available?

IONik is available in 107 Life Time Fitness center nationwide in the Life Café. It is also rolling out into 100 convenience stores in the next 30 days. We are also in a few local markets in Murrieta, CA.

What are your distribution channels?

IONiK is an approved vendor with UNFI.

What are your projected sales for 2013?

Three months of sales, Oct-Dec: $60k

How do you promote/market your beverage?

1. Life Time Fitness(LTF) launched a 500k media campaign with the introduction of IONiK in Septemeber, 2013. We have full page ads in Experience Life! Magazine which has circulation to over 1M readers. It is sold in Barnes & Noble, WFM and distributed to LTF members natinwide. In addition we have a 2 min video that is played consistently throughout the clubs along with posters and digital signage.
2. Athletic events: We are attending athletic events in SoCal to create a local buzz and get out products into the hands of our target customers who may not have a LTF center close by.
3. Online Sales: e-commerce was launched last week as an outlet to sell product direct to consumers.

Where would you like your beverage company to be in three years?

We see the company being a national brand with a target sales of $50M plus. We will expand the current line with more flavors and launch new lines annually.

If you had the opportunity to build another beverage company what would you do differently?

As far as how we created the company, products and distribution, nothing. The only thing I would have done different would have been to hire a beverage consultant to review the plan and give guidance and direction.

What advice could you give entrepreneurs starting their own beverage company?

If you have an idea and a vision, go for it. Make sure you have the funding needed to start and make sure you put all your focus on the Product, COGS, Marketing and Distribution. Never lose sight of what you are doing. You must believe in your product and know your market.


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