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Ask the Attendees: @drinkKoa

Recently, we told you about TechStyle, an event held during Fashion Week that brought together fashion and technology.  The event had a wonderful turnout and attendees enjoyed the chance to celebrate NYC's fashion week in techsy style!

But just who are the brands that attended the event? What's their take on the event industry? And what did they think of TechsyStyle? We took the opportunity to interview a few of the attendees and over the next few days will be featuring their interviews, read on for a peek inside the guests' heads:

We spoke with Adam Louras from Koa Organic Beverages.

- First of all, please tell our readers about Koa Natural - what is the company all about?

At Koa Organic Beverages, we believe in the idea that food products should be locally sourced, nutrition dense, and minimally processed – just as nature intended. Ingredient panels shouldn’t read like the shopping list for a meth-lab – we believe that product simplicity is what our bodies crave.

Along with our belief in a resurgence to authentic foods, we believe that companies should consider their social impact in the way they produce, ship, and store their products. Koa strives to produce all of our products locally using organic ingredients that are sustainably grown and cooperatively processed to minimize waste.

Lastly, we use packaging materials that are biodegradable and recyclable and we craft them into designs that we feel are not only functional and beautiful but also enable consumers to reuse our packaging time and again.

Our company is certified by QAI as a USDA Organic food Processor and Handler and we have business operations across Southern California and Central Texas.

- What were the 3 keys to getting the company off the ground - where did you invest your time?

The three (3) keys to getting us off the ground were: 1. Raising Money 2. Using the power of persuasion and 3. Finding passionate people

  1. Raising Money – Many businesses, like ours, require a lot of upfront money to get things rolling.  Koa was essentially an R&D project for the better part of five (5) years before we were able to launch our first retail product. I think that most people believe that they need to have a profitable company right from day one (1) in order to make it work. Well, that would be great in a perfect world, but it didn’t work that way for us! We needed to find investors that believed in our mission, values, and ability to deliver on our promises.  We found those investors and we were able to use the money raised to build the unique and proprietary technology that makes Koa possible.
  2. Using the power of persuasion – It’s funny, but when I first started Koa, I assumed that every other company worked sort of like Amazon.  You know, you find what you want, you put it in your shopping cart, you pay for it, and then it arrives a few days later on your door step. Wow, was I really far off in my thinking.  When you are a small company or a startup, other companies just don’t take you seriously.  Even when you offer to pay them, a lot of times you get the door (or the phone) slammed in your face.  If you are lucky enough to get them to talk with you, a lot of times they don’t deliver the product or service to your specifications and you don’t really have any recourse because they make you pay them upfront. I found that the hardest part of getting off the ground is using persuasion to get things done the way that you need them done to be successful.  Persuading people to work with you and help you is hard.  Without the right suppliers, vendors, warehouses, or freight companies, you just can’t make a business work or scale.
  3. Finding passionate people – When your company is small, like a single person small, you can’t risk making a mistake on hiring the next person.  Hiring that one person will literally double your company! The right person can split the workload in half, but the wrong person can end up doubling your workload. Also, when you find that right person, you need to persuade them to work with you! (see point number 2 above).  Usually, a startup doesn’t have much to offer by way of brand recognition, money, perks, or benefits. You need great people that share in the vision for the company.  This is truly a difficult task and one that I’m constantly working to improve.  Do you know anyone that is passionate about sugar free juice?  Do they want to work for a startup? Call me J

 - What was your experience like at TechStyle this year? What was your biggest takeaway?

TechStyle was a lot of fun and it was a great way to share our story (and our product) outside of the retail environment.  Never underestimate the power of social media!  We met a lot of fun and influential people that became huge fans of our company so they shouted us out all over the internet.  It is sometimes difficult to quantify the value of this media, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

 - What role do live events play in your branding and marketing initiatives?

TechStyle is one of the first live events that we have done outside of the retail environment.  We have found that our product requires a face-to-face explanation, so we tend to demo the product a lot to help tell the story.  Live Events are the best way to tell our story.  While I love print, sometimes the uniqueness and specialness of our product gets lost.  When we are able to tell people what Koa is all about (clear, sugar free juice) in a one-on-one setting it is easier to tailor the conversation to each individual’s needs.

 - Do you use social media often to bring awareness to your brand? If so, how has it helped?

Yes, we use social media a lot. I think that it is one of the fastest and most direct way of talking with our fans and letting people know what is going on with our company. I haven’t really seen a direct relationship between our efforts and sales of the product, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working.  I have people stop me all of the time and say, “Hey, I heard you were in XYZ store” or “I saw that you are now selling product in my home town”.  These types of comments let me know that people notice what we are doing and you just never know how that might impact us.  We’ve actually had a few meetings with distribution companies based on our efforts on social media, so we keep it up!

- Finally, what is your favorite app?

Does liking Facebook make me too old school? I’m not as into all of the picture apps out on social media but I also realize that I’m the minority on this one.  Call my old fashioned, but I actually like to read about what my friends and acquaintances are doing rather than just see what seems to be selfies galore.

 

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