Jimmy, Jake, and Jordan DeCicco, three brothers, all under the age of 30, created the successful brand, Super Coffee. They began their business in a dorm room, and are now valued at over $500 million. The DeCicco brothers share how their fiercely competitive upbringing instilled in them drive, passion, and grit that first helped them succeed in football and basketball, then carried over into the world of entrepreneurship.
Today, Mark Divine speaks with Jimmy, Jake, and Jordan DeCicco, founders of the healthy coffee brand, Super Coffee. All under the age of 30, these young entrepreneurs began their business in a dorm room, and now lead a company valued at over $500 million. The DeCicco brothers share how their fiercely competitive upbringing instilled in them drive, passion, and grit that first helped them succeed in football and basketball, then carried over into the world of entrepreneurship.
“The lessons learned as athletes empower us to do what we do on a daily basis in terms of overcoming obstacles.”
Surround yourself with the best possible people who have experience and knowledge. The strength of a team is only as good as its people and the brothers never were shy about reaching out to the best of the best. They took this philosophy to finding the best mentors as well. Seth Goldman, the founder of Honest Tea, had a similar mission to the brothers (to provide an alternative to unhealthy, sugar-laden beverages.) They sought him out, pitched their business and he proved to be a valuable mentor, who also graciously extended his network to the start up.
If you want to start a business, look for a problem to solve. For the DeCicco brothers, the problem was that there were no healthy coffee or energy drinks available on campus. As athletes, they were downing protein regularly and coffee regularly, so it made sense to combine the two.
There’s no silver bullet. You’ve just got to hustle.The DeCicco brothers were pushed hard to win at a young age, by their competitive, athletic parents, and by each other. They developed a strong work ethic, understood the value of teamwork and the value of family. They attribute their success mostly to their parents and what they taught them and the values they instilled in them.
Businesses need a strong culture and set of defined values to succeed in today’s world. The great resignation is proving that employees are fed up with poor leadership and working for companies that don’t value them. The DeCicco brothers have implemented a value system called C.O.A.C.H. (Curiosity, Optimism, Ambition, Compassion, Humility.) These values help create a positive culture that values and rewards employees for embodying these values.
Mark Divine 0:00
Coming up on the Mark Divine show,
DeCisso Brothers 0:01
I think the stuff that we do on a day to day basis, we accidentally leaned into every team call we have, we reserve the last five to 10 minutes for gratitude. And gratitude is just shout outs for one another Mark on a kick ass podcast today. orden did an awesome job giving Jim a shout out that gratitude at the end of time it’s given folks a shout out that scored the basket or had an assist. I think that gratitude ingrained into our culture, super important part of the cycle.
Mark Divine 0:30
Welcome to the Mark Divine show. This is your host, Mark Divine. And this show we discover we dive in and discuss what makes the world’s most inspirational, compassionate and resilient leaders so courageous, will talk in depth to people from all walks of life, such as martial arts grandmasters meditation monks, CEOs, military leaders, Stoic philosophers, private survivors, and even young entrepreneurs. In each episode, we’ll take our guests experience, turn it into actionable insights that you can learn and grow from, and use to lead a life filled with courage and compassion. Today, I’m talking to three brothers. The secret brothers are all former D one student athletes who co-founded super coffee, Jordan, Jake, Jim DeCicco, they sought to solve a predicament that many college students face which is getting jacked up on coffee. following extensive dorm room testing, they built a better for you coffee called Super Coffee. Coffee has protein powder, MCT oils, and vitamins in it. Super coffee is now the fastest growing brand in the beverage space with a $500 million valuation which is incredible. These three brothers, none of them had backgrounds in entrepreneurship or corporate beverages or brewing or coffee or anything. But since the launch of super coffee, they become the number three bottle coffee brand behind Starbucks and Dunkin. Guys, super stoked to have you here. You’re coming from Austin, Texas. Thanks for your time. So identify yourselves, Jay. Good. Jordan. New Jim.
DeCisso Brothers 1:57
Yeah. So I’m Jimmy. I’m the oldest brother in the middle brother. I guess I am Jordan, the youngest brother here. Got
Mark Divine 2:03
it. So before we get into kind of the whole story about Super coffee, by the way, which is exceptional. Before I knew I was doing this, I’ve had the product. I love it. So it’s cool to hear that you’re coming on this show. But where did you guys grow up? Talk a little bit about your formative years, what the influence of your parents were on you and also the relationship you guys had together as brothers.
DeCisso Brothers 2:25
For sure, man. So we grew up in Kingston, New York, and the Hudson Valley is two hours north of New York City. We’re super close in age today. I’m 29. Jake’s 28 Jordans 26 Our parents had us at a young age, they had three kids by the time they were 25. Mom and dad were both Division One athletes, and they got into parenthood probably before they were ready to and we always say they figured it out their background as athletes really prepared them to raise us with the right values of teamwork, being compassionate to those who are on your team, hustling through the line sort of putting in the work that other people on the team aren’t willing to put in, right? We played all sports growing up, our mom and our dad were oftentimes our coaches. Really, the three of us if we weren’t playing one on one in the backyard, we were often on the same teams growing up as well. So we built a pretty strong chemistry throughout our childhood as athletes. A lot of that was due to the push and pull from mom and dad. Yeah.
Mark Divine 3:17
Off the playing field in the house. What was the environment like? Mom, Dad disciplinarians, or were they pretty free? I mean, do you guys get along? Or to beat the shit out of each other? What was that like?
DeCisso Brothers 3:27
You didn’t fight too much we competed a lot. There’s always a game of one on one or something going on. They allowed us to make mistakes. My mom had a saying that she would sit us down and draw the line of like, what was acceptable? show you where you were coming on that line of your behavior. Right. And she would use the analogy of you’re getting too close to the bad side of the line. Which was great, because you had to make the decision, right of how do I get back to the right place on that line? Right. But you know, they were young parents, they really forced us to follow our dreams or something. But believe in ourselves, I think was always something that our mother did. She was a TED mom that you know, she would write a quote on the board. Well, before I think that became like mainstream and social media. There was always a quote of the week, she would always tell us kick today’s ass, she dropped us off, you’re going to elementary school. So I think you know the ideas of believing in yourself. And starting your day with intention setting was something that she intentionally did and accidentally did. Because it wasn’t as overt as you know, be super intentional with what you’re about to do. But you know, go into the day optimistic, be kind and compassionate to others, but also be ready to compete and win the day.
Mark Divine 4:36
Oh, that’s cool. So what about your dad? It sounds like your mom was quite a force. What was he like?
DeCisso Brothers 4:41
Yeah, I think Dad was also a force in his own right he was a division one linebacker so he instilled you know that competitive spirit early on and one thing he always told us you know, whether it be on the football field baseball field or basketball court was be first and everything that you do if you get a water break, sprint over to the water cooler. That’s cool. And he was also a physical engineer. So he really cared about education as well. His classic quotes helping us during homework after school was Measure twice, cut once, right? He really wanted to make sure we focused on the detail and did the little things right. You know, unfortunately, he suffered a few injuries playing college football, a lot of concussions that led to some mental disabilities. That certainly impeded our childhood for sure. It was not easy. They tried to understand what was wrong. It was really post concussive disorder, ultimately, that had an impact on his life. And even so he powered through that to be the best father that he can be. And it showed us look like things are not always gonna go perfectly or as planned, right. That was not the life that he planned or mom and plan with him and but he powered through that he was always there at all of our games and pushed us to be better so he was a great father for us as well. Not that Jordans talking like He’s dead. He’s still alive and well.
Mark Divine 5:51
Yeah, he’s that’s amazing. But you know, a lot of people play football and even special operators and I was a Navy SEAL. You probably know that. You know, deal with TBI or you know, concussions. You all football players. I know at least one of you most gym you played?
DeCisso Brothers 6:04
Yeah, Jake and I played football, Jordan was basketball and okay. I mean, we’ve never had thank God never been knocked out or any year concussions, but playing football for 10 or 12 years growing up. Every play, you’re hitting heads with somebody. That’s right, it’s those little hits that
Mark Divine 6:17
add up. Same thing with the seals, like I haven’t had a knockout concussion in the seals. But you know, every time I shot a weapon, every time I blew something up, every time I parachute jumped, there was a micro trauma to the brain. And so now they’re recommending that all seals active and actually getting out, do some sort of therapy, this more preventative maintenance so that when you get into your 60s or 70s, you don’t have the pre onset of Parkinson’s or neurological disorders that come in TBI. Every time this kind of comes up, I like to put it out there. So anyone played football? At the level you guys played in college or professional should get a brain scan and do some you know, electric stim therapy or something like that, just as preventative maintenance on food for thought, guys.
DeCisso Brothers 6:58
Yeah, thanks, man.
Mark Divine 6:59
So your parents were entrepreneurs, you went to college? Probably no, Jim, you went to Wall Street, you probably weren’t thinking you were going to be business founders, entrepreneurs. What was that like? Like going from thinking you’re going to be you know, probably making money on Wall Street or climbing the corporate ladder to suddenly you’re just basically looking at this tabula rasa every day and trying to figure shit out.
DeCisso Brothers 7:20
Yeah, man. And you and I share a similar experience. We both went to Colgate University and not much change from the time that you graduated till I did like, right, the expectation was to get into finance or to real estate and make a lot of money pretty much right? For me, like, I just did that because that was status quo. That wasn’t what I was personally passionate about and CO gets a liberal arts school, they didn’t really have an entrepreneurship program. So I didn’t know what a start up was. I didn’t know what a pitch deck was, or anything like that. I knew that Jordan created something that he was excited about. He was still a student athlete at the time, and it was better for you coffee to get him through his practices and his study sessions. And that was exciting, when he’s passionate about something that excites me. And it was more of solving a problem with my brothers rather than starting a business. You know, none of us have business backgrounds or business degrees. Right. But I think that’s
Mark Divine 8:05
not true. I do. That’s funny. Yeah. But though
DeCisso Brothers 8:09
the, the lessons learned as athletes empower us to do what we do on a daily basis in terms of overcoming obstacles. Yeah,
Mark Divine 8:17
yeah, no, I can see how they transfer to entrepreneurship, just like a lot of the special operations are the warrior athletes principles, you know, that are somewhat similar, transferred entrepreneurship pretty well. But of course, there’s way more than that involved. And I want to get into that. But let’s talk about a little bit about the origin story of Super Coffee joining them and what was that likely? How did that come about? And put us into your mind about how you created the whole formulation?
DeCisso Brothers 8:41
Yeah, we’ve always been interested, you know, funny enough back to our family roots. Our uncle was a successful entrepreneurs are not directly you know, our parents, but in the family and growing up, you do lemonade stands, and we’d sell gum and do things like that. So always had an itch for entrepreneurship. And when I got to campus, my freshman year, we would have 5am Basketball practices, which I love. But what I didn’t know was going 8am class right after that, right. And I was pretty health conscious at the time, not as much as we are now six years ago as a freshman, but I would not drink Redbull monster Starbucks frappuccinos with 40 grams of sugar, but unfortunately, that’s all my school had to offer. Right? And when I saw that, I was like, Hey, I’m not gonna drink this stuff. So I started making my own. I’d wake up a little bit earlier at about 430 I start making my own pre made cold brew coffee with protein, just from the protein that they provide it because I didn’t have any money.
Mark Divine 9:30
So you just like mixing protein powder into the coffee.
DeCisso Brothers 9:33
Yeah, that’s how I was starting it. I was like, This is great pre practice. Yeah, it’s good. I can also take it with me to class. And it worked. It was great. I was like, Why isn’t this available? I couldn’t find it anywhere. But what I realized too, was like, Hey, we have a really demanding lifestyle. Here. We have 5am practices. Then we have class all day long. In between, we got to figure out a way to lift or come back and get shots up. We’ve got to stay sharp. Then we’re going to go out and party and then we’re going to do it all over again right?
Mark Divine 9:59
Course the burning part’s really important. Yeah,
DeCisso Brothers 10:01
yeah, exactly. It was demanding. And what I realized was, look, what we put into our body is what we get out of it. The fact that we don’t have any healthy options is a travesty, especially on college campuses. So I put together a business case proposal because I was studying management. But again, I was only a couple months in, it was focused on food and beverage, and why aren’t there healthier options. And at the same time, I was tinkering with formulas in my dorm room, as if I was an r&d scientist. And I was using my teammates to give me feedback on the product, right? Doing some of the foundational things that any business founder would do. Unintentionally, I was just doing them because to Jim’s point, I was passionate about this project. And about six months into the year I’d called Jake, who was at Georgetown at the time. And I said, I’m really excited about this potential coffee project. That’s a healthy better for you option. My teammates finally love it. I’m drinking it all the time it gets you jacked up makes you feel great. You know, do you want to maybe start this with me and work on it this summer? Jake, was a Absolutely, there’s a program that we can pitch in Georgetown summer launch program, if you want to drive down and compete. And again, this is just comes back to us being athletes and competitors. I said, Hell yeah. I don’t have a business plan. But let’s do it. Right. So that week, I basically drove down from Philly to Georgetown, we pitched and from there, I’ll pass the mic to Jake. Yeah, I think it’s interesting too, because, you know, putting protein into your coffee wasn’t novel, right? Every one of our teammates probably was getting a nice coffee after the morning lifts and mixing their protein shake that you got forced on you, right as you left the weight room or your strength coach, or they were drinking it side by side with your Starbucks or whatever it was. But I think that action was our very first step as entrepreneurs. And I do think that correlated directly back to what Jim mentioned about our parents probably being running our household like it was a startup. Right. But then, you know, we started testing the product on our teammates, which was the best focus group we could ever have. Because we were making a product for ourselves,
Mark Divine 11:55
right? When you were doing that, were you packaging it yourself? Are we just like, I mean, how did you get it to your team? It’s I’m just curious what this look like in the early days, and you’re mixing this shit in your dorm room and right, are you giving it to your team if you’d like giving it to them in a bowl or slurp this up?
DeCisso Brothers 12:11
Recycled Naked juice box? Yeah, I’d call suppliers at some local plastics company and say, Hey, I’m starting a company. Could you send me some samples and they would send bottles like 1520 at a time? So I’d keep them under my bed, hold them out, fill them up on Sundays, and then have enough inventory for the week. Oh, that’s interesting. Our first ever transaction the Markets a great question, Jim was working on Wall Street. And his boss found out that his two little brothers at a coffee shop was like, Oh, we love coffee. Everyone in the office loves coffee. So he made a case for Jim. We sent it up. And he paid us for it. But it was all recycled bottles that we had used. So the label on the top of the plastic bottle was clearly not sealed. His boss threw it away. He threw it away. He’s like, no one’s drinking this shit and getting sick from your bra. I didn’t realize it was this janky that’s literally the state that we were at. But that was the first time anyone had paid us for the product.
Mark Divine 13:00
I love that. That’s awesome. So is drinking this shit? Yeah, but you got to first transaction. No, that’s cool.
DeCisso Brothers 13:05
Yeah. I mean, the way that we got in our first customer was Whole Foods Market. Right? We walked off campus, there’s one half a mile from Georgetown. It was great because they just started accepting the Georgetown dining dollars that summer. So we walked up with a horrible looking bottle that again, was a recycled Honest Tea bottle, this time, printed out a label in the business school, Jordan brewed up a batch in the dorm room blender. We walked to the store manager like literally walked in the front doors that we make coffee, here it is, do you want something the guy was definitely questioning it. He was like, This doesn’t look great. You know, our pitch was like, hey, you know you guys except Georgetown Dining Dollars. Worst case scenario, he told us we could do a demo, which we didn’t know what it was. But just demonstrate the product and the store where the worst case scenario, we’ll get some football players to come up and eat your hotbar. Right, and you’ll make 2030 bucks. And that was our end. You know, that was how we got into Whole Foods got set up as a local supplier. And then 12 weeks later, we came back with product, we went to the back door where we told us that’s where we’re going to drop it off. And he scanned our purchase order and they’re like, hey, like this purchase order is not real. Like no, no, like Mark set it up. It’s real. Like this is it. And we went up and saw the guy it wasn’t his name wasn’t more What the hell was his name? Derek, Derek. And we’re like, what’s up with this purchase order. The guy in the back saying it doesn’t work. He’s again because expired. Put in a purchase order on Tuesday. You bring it on Thursday. You don’t wait to bring it. But that was like literally, we had no clue. Right? We had no clue but we were figuring it out. Then that day, we did a demo. We just kept selling product. We brought a ton of it with us. We sold and we sold we sold and after that first day we came back the next day. We’re like how do we do is you guys sold 400 bottles yesterday. Oh shit. We’re like, is that good? Is that bad? He’s like, that’s more coffee than I’ve ever sold in a month at this store. Wow, people weren’t buying it because the product was good. By the way. They’re fine because we were there bagging and selling a more on this vision of like what coffee could be not necessarily what was in the bottle at
Mark Divine 14:55
that time. How’d you come up with superfood name?
DeCisso Brothers 14:58
Yeah, so super coffee. Every coffee I mean sorry supercar initially it was a description, right like, this is what this coffee does for you. This is coffee plus benefits coffee plus function. We knew that early on, it had to taste good, you know, couldn’t just be function and so we combined flavor with function and we described it as super coffee. And because it’s merely descriptive, you couldn’t own the tradeMark. But after the first three years of business, our brand became so recognizable from sales and Marketing materials that the USPTO actually granted us the tradeMark. So now the brand name is super coffee.
Mark Divine 15:31
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DeCisso Brothers 18:21
Yeah, I think I mean, beverage is a such a low margin high volume game. And we didn’t realize but high volume is like $100 million in sales, like and we’re in order
Mark Divine 18:30
to make a to squeak out a profit. Right? Totally. Yeah, for going
DeCisso Brothers 18:35
from that one store where we were doing 1000 bucks a week in sales were like, how are we going to do 100 million of this? And I think that thought of like looking up at the top of the mountain say how the hell are we going to get there was always overwhelming. But how do you climb a mountain one step at a time, you know, and every year we chip away, we started out we did a million dollars in sales. 5 million the next year, 26 million next year. We went on Shark Tank, you know, and all of these things sort of compile and then you look up and you’re like, kind of halfway up that mountain. So I guess to answer your question, it was like, how are we going to get there? There is no silver bullet, you know, you can’t take a helicopter to the top of the mountain, you have to do the work to really get up there. And once we accepted that this is simple business. It’s just a grind. We put our heads down and we’ve grinded for the last six years.
Mark Divine 19:18
Right. Why didn’t the Shark Tank invest? Why did they pass on you
DeCisso Brothers 19:21
guys? So we were at the time it was 2017. We did about a million in revenue. We were asking for a million dollar investment for 10% of the company. So $10 million
Mark Divine 19:30
valuation. Oh, yes, it was valuation. Yeah. Yeah.
DeCisso Brothers 19:32
What they said I mean, Mark Cuban was like, Look, guys, I love you love the energy. This might work. But there’s a graveyard of billions of dollars of investments that have gone into beverages that never worked out. And I’m not prepared to be the guy who writes that next check, right? They liked the product. They liked the proposition. They didn’t like the odds. They’re like you guys, the odds,
Mark Divine 19:50
you know, with 320 some year old kids who’ve never built a business. Right? You can see them going out on now about this one. Yeah. Actually, I didn’t realize how tenacious you were. The X Factor. Yeah. Talk about the role of mentors in helping you. I imagine you build a board and had advisors early on, or something like pivotal mentors who gave you like a key sage piece of advice that was instrumental in success.
DeCisso Brothers 20:19
Yeah, I think this has been critical for us and highly advise any entrepreneurs starting out to surround yourself with the best possible people for the lowest possible cost out of the gate. Our first we happen to be very lucky and it was strategic on our part. But Seth Goldman, he was the founder of honesty. So very similar he basically did to Snapple in the late 90s. What we were trying to do to Starbucks in the mid 2015. He was actually based right about 20 minutes north of Georgetown University where we were launching the business. So I reached out to Seth, we got an introduction through somebody at Georgetown, he responded immediately, and he said, Hey, guys, this is amazing what you’re doing. I love this. How about you start by reading my book, and he had wrote a book about a story called Mission in a bottle. Of course, we read it cover to cover probably 20 times, we made a pact to ourselves, that no matter what we could do going forward, we always wanted to give Seth an update. If Seth was speaking somewhere, we wanted to be there and hear him live. We want to wait for him. Like he was a celebrity afterward and talk to him, get on phone calls with him and just ask him as many questions as possible. And what that ended up doing. One, Seth had a lot of respect for us. But he started opening up his network to us, right, and people that helped him and gave back to him. Some of them looked at it as an opportunity. A lot of them were our first investors. Some of them are just friends today and advisor, Seth still to this day, we jump on the phone with him, he helps us out. We’re at a spot now where he was when he sold honesty to Coca Cola zero, right. So he’s seen us, you know, the same stages we followed that he took, which have worked well for us. And we try to do the same thing for entrepreneurs starting out. And we always say, hey, read this book first, because it was incredibly helpful for us.
Mark Divine 21:56
Oh, that’s kind of cool. I like that. All right, who else? Anybody else got to have more than one mentor?
DeCisso Brothers 22:02
Yeah, I think coaches along the way, there’s a gentleman on our board called Tyler Rick’s, he was a Marketing executive at Pepsi. Then he also launched a couple startups bear naked granola on baby food. So he’s got that rare big company experience and also like the scrappy startup vibe, and he’s been instrumental and keeping us focused, you know, inch wide mile deep is one of his reminders to us. And what he means is like support where you can support and I think a lot of young brands in the food and beverage space, especially get tempted to say yes to a purchase order at Ralph’s in California, and Wegmans in New York, Publix down in Florida. And then before you know it, you’re spread out all across the country without a concentration of loyal customers. And it’s really hard to be successful in an industry that’s dominated by Coke and Pepsi and Nestle that have these multimillion dollar Marketing budgets. So that advice from Tyler was always a humbling reminder to stay focused where we were. Yeah, yeah. One more quick one. The mentor is less important. But his messages were always super helpful. He’s one of our distributors, and he handles New York City and Long Island, the most competitive beverage geo in the country, right. A guy named Jerry Rita been the CEO there for 30 years a multimillionaire. He built brands like vitamin, water, and Monster, tons of successful billion dollar exits. And one thing that Jerry taught us is the idea of you compete the same way you competed when you played football, and you got to want to win the same way you wanted to win when you were playing sports growing up. And all the big flashy stuff and the brilliant words of Jerry Reed, it doesn’t fucking matter. Gotta go out and gotta want more than the people that you compete with every day. There’s only so much shelf space, consumers only buying so many items, you got to be there at the point of purchase, physically wanting it more than the other folks that want to be on those shelves, which is a really good guiding light for an entrepreneur, because there is a time where you go from being on the grounds and the ones that are stacking shelves to take on some investors money and making decisions of how to spend that money. The answer and what Jared always say spend it as close to the customer and in those four walls in the grocery store. Yeah, as possible. And that was a really good guiding light for us. Be there compete and never forget about your customer, then.
Mark Divine 24:11
Yeah, and that is certainly wise advice. Yeah, that one’s critical
DeCisso Brothers 24:15
Mark to you. And I’ll just say like, make sure you know, we wanted to make sure we were talking to believable people in this space, people who had success time and time again. And when we talk to as many people as we possibly could, we saw the patterns emerge, right? All the smart successful people had the same type of patterns in the industry. Those patterns became our guardrails or our roads. And we knew that we were going to put in the work, we knew we were going to do everything that it took. But with those guardrails, then we could be successful. But again, we weren’t just taking advice from anybody, right? It had to be people who had that experience. We achieved what we wanted to achieve. And that was critical for us on our drink.
Mark Divine 24:50
Yeah, yeah, that’s cool. Now, you know, multibillion dollar entrenched competitors don’t love it when they see you know, upstart like super coffee come along. They can, you know, pull some kind of Dick maneuvers, what’s the worst thing that happened to you from one of your competitors? Try to thwart your progress.
DeCisso Brothers 25:07
This one just happened recently. So I don’t know if this is the worst one, but it pisses me off. We’re only sold in America right now we got a lot to focus on here in the US, but obviously, internationally, super coffee could be a massive company. And that’s our aspiration over the next three to five years. Our lawyer reached out to us a couple of weeks ago and said, hey, you know, we don’t have the super coffee tradeMark in Canada, somebody just applied for it. I’m like, Oh, great. Somebody’s trying to rip us off. And come to find out, it’s Monster Energy get there. For the super coffee tradeMark, and every country that we’re not in, and their whole Mo is, once we’re ready to launch in Canada, they’re going to license our name back to us. It’s get out of here shit, and it’s such a racket, and they’re known to do that. So, I mean, obviously, we’re challenging everything. But it’s nice to have copycats. You know, it’s kind of flattering. Yeah, that’s an extreme exam. It’s
Mark Divine 25:56
not a copycat gym. That’s just a dick maneuver. You know what I mean? Like you said, Exactly,
DeCisso Brothers 26:02
yeah, yeah. For us shelf space, the most precious thing, right? Like, right, were bought in retail. And you go in and you have the patty beverage fights where you go in one week selling great and you come back the following week. And Mark super coffee, gave him a free product to take your space. Right? That happens time and time again. So that’s just like a daily battle that our team fights. Yeah. But
Mark Divine 26:23
have all the big brands introduce kind of knockoff?
DeCisso Brothers 26:26
No, I mean, nothing directly, which is honestly surprising. Until super coffee bolo, coffee was just coffee with milk and sugar. You know, that’s what Starbucks is. That’s what Dunkin is. Brands are continuing to innovate with coffee with milk and sugar. PLANT BASE is a big trend with things like oat milk, right? People are putting adaptogenic ingredients into coffee, CBD and coffee in some cases. But for us, we want it to be functional, and flavorful in a way that appeals to the masses. We say it all the time. We’re building a brand more for Walmart than for Whole Foods. Yeah, I think you see a lot of niche brands go into whole foods that are great. And stuff that I love, you know, the bulletproof coffees of the world, the rebel coffees with the roots in the mushrooms and things like that. But it just doesn’t appeal to the mainstream customer who’s buying the groceries at Walmart in the middle of the country. Right? launch an exact replica of our products. I’ll call bank keto coffee, who has bang energy, you know that? Yo Jacko walk? That was one that was a direct ripoff of the super coffee brand.
Mark Divine 27:24
Who’s behind that again? Bank? A guy named Jack? Oh, Ah, man, you got a girl on Instagram. Just go to bank CEO. It’s a it is a riot. are you positioning? I mean, I probably should know this. Because it sounds like you keep talking about coffee. But you could position as a coffee drinking position as an energy drink or a protein drink? Because you’re all three. So how do you deal with that kind of category confusion?
DeCisso Brothers 27:47
I mean, it’s part of our value proposition too. Right. I think we saw these categories merging, you know, six years ago. You know, it was an assumption that that would continue to happen. People want more multifunctional products in their portfolio. Because to Jake’s point, before Super Gavi, people were leaving their workouts, they would have a protein shake in their right hand and coffee in their left hand or an energy drink in their left hand, we wanted to just make it more convenient and taste better at an affordable price point. So when we look at the data today, we are truly solving that problem that need for customers at a mainstream level. And we want to continue to do that. But simultaneously, we also want to expand to beyond just our core super coffee product line, right, we want to play in adjacent categories, like energy, drinks, pods, and ground so people can make their own at home. We have creamers now, which are sugar free and enhanced with protein. So we want to give people more consumption occasions, meet them where they are, versus just trying to give them a one size fits all product, and expect them to only drink that. So we have evolved the portfolio quite a bit. But our core super Gavi, the one that started in a dorm room is our most beloved product, because it addresses the most problems and needs for
Mark Divine 28:55
our customer. That’s cool. So for aspiring entrepreneurs listening to this, what was the hardest part about going from zero to 5 million, then the hardest part from going from five to 50 million. And then the hardest part from going to 50 to 500 million in value? Well, I don’t know what your revenue is today. But I know your valuations around 500. So over 100 million, I should say probably, yeah,
DeCisso Brothers 29:15
I think the hardest part about what we like to say I was a Peter Thiel, fellows you are to a he’s literally just breaking through and getting off the ground in a lot of that is really hard manual labor
Mark Divine 29:25
boots on the ground, you’re out there talking to people boots on the ground showing in the product. Yep,
DeCisso Brothers 29:29
you don’t have any resources or any capital, you got to figure out a way to make an MVP product, a minimum viable product, right to get feedback on to get revenue in the door to raise capital. And then you got to go out and build your business really just with your own blood, sweat and tears. And that’s how you get to 5 million. That is how you get to 5 million in sales. There’s no silver bullet there. It’s 20 hour work days. We’re doing our own manufacturing, distribution and sales and Marketing. And that’s how we learned the business. I’d say five to 50 is momentum. Hey guys, we’re on the phone. thing, it’s working in these small geographies with your money, we can do this on a national level. And we need that fuel to keep growing Time is of the essence.
Mark Divine 30:07
So it’s raising money and using that money in sales, Marketing and distribution,
DeCisso Brothers 30:11
scaling, what’s working? Yeah, building out the team building out distribution. What do you think? 50 to five?
Mark Divine 30:16
I want to come back to that, by the way, Jimmy just talked about the perils and pitfalls of raising money, you know, for consumer product business. But alright, go ahead. Let’s see,
DeCisso Brothers 30:25
the 50 to 500 is all about investing in your people. Okay, well, building a great team, right? It’s a big shift, you know, because you go from being the doers to being the leaders, right? Rather than taking care of the business needs every day, you need to take care of your people so that they can take care of the business. Yeah, I think that is a huge shift. And probably where a lot of entrepreneurs probably make the mistake and never take that step to being a national brand. And going beyond that. They can’t get their head out of focusing on how can I contribute versus how can I create a culture that allows others to contribute?
Mark Divine 31:05
Okay, we’re gonna take a short break here from the Mark Divine show, to hear a short message from one of our partners. This episode of unbeatable mind is brought to you by the Jordan Harbinger show, if you’re looking for another podcast that’s entertaining, informative and packed with actionable content with an excellent host, then Jordan Harbinger is your guy. You know, the average podcast listener has six shows and rotation. So I’d love for you to add his show into your rotation. Because if you’d like my show, you’re going to love his it’s a top shelf podcast. It was named Best of Apple in 2018. So it’s not just my suggestion, but Apple and a lot of people like me love his podcast. He dives into the minds of fascinating people like he’s all over the place with really interesting thing athletes author scientific scientists, mobster spies hostage negotiators. I love his recent episodes with Ray Dalio, the thought leader around finance and kind of world economics, and is also with Tony Hawk, who’s a local individual that I know here who’s obviously created the professional sport of skateboarding. He’s an undeniable talent, he gets his guests to share things that they never thought about before even and without fail, he puts tactical bits of wisdom into each episode all actionable, I think you’re really gonna like this podcast I’m a fan to definitely Jordans the man when it comes to podcasting. And his is one of the most highly rated self development shows out there. Point blank Jordans funny, he’s smart. This is an easy to listen to show, it’s worth your time. Can’t go wrong with the Jordan Harbinger show, search for Jordan Harbinger show that’s ATR B as in boy, I n as Nancy G our search for it on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks, Jordan. And now back to the show. Excellent job kind of summarizing what the key challenges are for those different stages of growth. I mean, man, you just nailed it. But then coming back to this culture, like that is hard, hard work, too. And so what strategies or support did you guys leverage to learn how to really build an outstanding culture so that everyone wakes up every day fired up? To be part of super coffee and to meet your mission?
DeCisso Brothers 33:21
Yeah. So I think the important thing, right is culture happens if it’s intentional or not, culture happens. And usually it starts as an extension of the founders. So really an extension, we joke from our parents, right, and our childhood and who we are, right? But then at a certain point, you know, Jake mentioned that you start building that team, you better get intentional about your culture, you better start defining how you want to be when you grow up, right. So we like to think of, you know, our culture as our collective personality as a company. And we set some pretty clear guardrails, what our purpose is, what our mission is, what our vision is, what our values are. And our values actually are probably our claim to fame internally, which we call our coach values. Funny enough, and they stand for curiosity, optimism, ambition, compassion, and humility, right, and everybody needs to live up to those values, and we need to hold each other accountable to those values, you know, you have to be clear about it. But you also need to be really disciplined and stern about it too, right? With your hiring practices, really, you’re trying to hire great people who are already a great culture fit and then make them better. And then also, if you do have bad hires, which everybody does, you need to act quickly and get them out of the organization is protecting the culture is critical. So once you set those guardrails and boundaries, one as leaders, you need to model them every day, they need to be real, they need to be authentic, can’t just put the values up on the wall, right? You got to model them, you need to enforce them. And again, we like to give our people the benefit of the doubt. But we really modeled servant leadership style where we’re serving people first, and helping them grow and evolve as people
Mark Divine 34:48
will not only enforce but to reward so what are some of the things that you do to reward adherence to the coach values? By the way, I love those values. I love that you said that values can just be a plaque on the wall. They Got to be lived and habituated and to be essentially like virtues of that everyone bodies. But so how do you reward that kind of behavior?
DeCisso Brothers 35:08
Totally, especially in a remote culture, right, you have to be crystal clear on those values. And the nice thing is when you are clear about those values, you attract people who believe in the same things that you do, which is exciting. And for us how we reward it. Every manager is responsible for conducting quarterly performance reviews, and every direct report is measured against one of those values. How did this coach display the value of curiosity in the prior quarter? Oh, cool. optimism, ambition, compassion, for the most part, those are table stakes, right? If you’re not exhibiting those values in your day to day life, this is probably not the place for you to begin with. But providing that coaching along the way, saying, Hey, you’re doing great here. Your optimism is awesome. But your humility, you took credit for something you should have passed on to, I think, not only rewarding that, but also we have shining stars. And just last week, we flew in our 2021 coaches of the year into our headquarters in Austin, we had guest speakers, we had workouts we did cold plunges. Nice. That was 20 people from our 150 person full time team, they got to come and experience that right. Yeah, I mean, that’s the big stuff, right? The quarterly reviews, frequent feedback, and then the big rewards. I think the stuff that we do on a day to day basis, we accidentally leaned into before we even had coach, every team call we have, we reserve the last five to 10 minutes for gratitude. And gratitude is just shout outs for one another Mark. What a kick ass podcast today. Yeah, Jordan did an awesome job giving Jim a shout out. Yeah, that gratitude at the end, a lot of time, it’s given folks a shout out that scored the basket or had an assist. But a lot of times, it’s like, Hey, I got a coach shout out. Because Jordan, awesome job exemplifying the H in coach. And he actually gave a shout out to the operations manager even though he was one that had a great meeting with our supply chain team. So I think that gratitude ingrained into our culture is something that has fed, you know, those coach values and recognition. And also the feedback piece to Jim’s point is super important part of the cycle. I love it.
Mark Divine 37:00
And gratitude is a force multiplier. You know, it creates such a cohesive, positive environment. The fact that you build that into your team meetings is really powerful. Good job on that. But you guys should take the coach model and write a book. What do you think? Awesome. Yeah, yeah, well, yeah, we love it. That’d be a great title, too. Yeah. Or maybe wait for 10 years of people take you seriously.
DeCisso Brothers 37:25
Books still being written? It’s being
Mark Divine 37:27
written? That’s right. You don’t want to write it before. It’s time. It’s got to be seasoned. Yeah. So what is your vision? You know, because you could sell the company tomorrow. And you guys have an ESOP where employees have a part of the upside?
DeCisso Brothers 37:38
Yes, sir. Every single one of our employees is an owner, and that incentivizes teamwork rather than individual contributors.
Mark Divine 37:43
Right, right. So what’s the vision? You know, you’re not waiting to flip this thing? Obviously, you got a big vision.
DeCisso Brothers 37:48
Yeah, I think we saw a little problem in our lives, which is actually a big problem. That’s America’s food system, America’s food paradigm is broken, there’s too much sugar, there’s too many calories in the food products that we consume by the masses. And we think that food doesn’t have to be bad for you to taste good. We think food can taste good food and beverages can taste good, and be good for you. Right? It’s flavor and function, like we said a minute ago. And with that, we want to be on the beginning of inspiring other entrepreneurs and other brands to do this in their categories, not just in America, but then take it internationally. Like I said, we’re only in the US today, the next five years, we plan to expand globally and continue to make that impact on more people.
Mark Divine 38:28
That’s awesome. So you’re gonna hang on and build a billion dollar brand, multi billion dollar brand and change a lot of people’s lives in the process. I couldn’t believe that the FDA would not change their sugar recommendations last year after literally everybody saying, Guys, you know, this is not healthy. We’re hurting our culture, and they wouldn’t change it.
DeCisso Brothers 38:49
What’s crazy about it is that Starbucks Frappuccino there’s more sugar in one Frappuccino than an adult man should consume in a day. And people are drinking it. They’re drinking two or three of them. It’s crazy. It is crazy. And then the sugar tax and a lot of cities they tried to institute that, but it turned into a sweet tax. So where’s your sugar? And based on some of our sweeteners, like monkfruit, we add zero sugar, no artificial sweeteners. Were getting drilled for the same amount of sugar tax realize fantas soda. Yeah, good guy, even though that we were zero and nothing artificial. So just shows how big sugar has their hands all over the legislation?
Mark Divine 39:27
Yeah, well, unfortunately, you know, it’s education. And the more people that get educated, then they vote with their mouth. Exactly right. That’s how it’s gonna change. You can’t You know, I’ve said this. A lot of times. I’m big on changing people’s mindsets and scaling consciousness and awareness and people making better decisions. You’re doing it through a product and through your educational campaigns. I’m doing it through this podcast, my books and training programs. And it’s exciting time to be in business and to be alive because we’re at the cusp of scaling awareness around healthy living, the importance of being inclusive and connecting and To appreciate the sameness in all of humanity as opposed to being separate. I think we’re at a place I don’t know if you guys agree where people are kind of fed up with that bullshit. Yeah, yeah. Because we know that humans are better. We’ve got more to give. And we can live on, like a human paradise if we just choose to if enough people choose to. Yeah,
DeCisso Brothers 40:19
yeah. And holy park, you nailed it, man. Like you’re a part of the solution, right? You’re doing the work on this podcast, sharing that consciousness. And I think now is an exciting time more than ever, because this media this education is available for free. That’s right. It’s on people’s phones. It’s on Instagram. It’s on social media.
Mark Divine 40:34
It’s everywhere. Yeah. Amy and I were laughing like when we went to Colgate, we didn’t have the internet. We didn’t have computers, we don’t have phones. We have nothing right. Except each other. You know. And we’re like, so we spent a lot of time outside spent a lot of time playing sports. And we were no different than you guys. We just didn’t have access to all the information all the time at our fingertips. And so you had to build a business mano a mano one person at a time. Now you can reach millions of people through social media and through different campaigns. So it’s extraordinary. And you know, to build a business like you have, how many years? Six years? Six years? Yeah. That’s insane. Right? It’s really cool to see the ability to build a unicorn like that in three to 10 years. Right? Yeah. So great work, man. I’m so inspired by you guys. And I know you’re gonna just continue doing it. And the fact that you’re working together in harmony as brothers, what a great role model that is for families and for brothers. Now, you guys, married and kids at all yet? Are you too busy for that?
DeCisso Brothers 41:30
child engaged? Yeah, I got a game a few weeks ago, and I’m gratulations on the most brave, I would say,
Mark Divine 41:36
that’s pretty brave. Yeah.
DeCisso Brothers 41:37
No, it’s cool. Jake’s fiance’s got to be a part of this journey for the last couple years. And okay, good. You understand the sacrifices that partners do in these situations. And it’s family. It’s teamwork. And I think that that is, honestly, that’s what what makes this thing special is we have each other’s backs whether this thing works or not.
Mark Divine 41:54
Yeah, that’s awesome. You’re crushing it. So congratulations. And thank you so much for your time on this podcast. So it’s really been a lot of fun and very interesting. And I think people who are really interested in healthy living and love coffee, and they haven’t tried super coffee, they need to go out and get some. Also, I love your message and your desire to really educate people. So what’s the best platform that you guys have for the educational piece or for how people can engage with some of your cause? Marketing and whatnot?
DeCisso Brothers 42:21
Yeah, I think LinkedIn is probably the most educational or often sharing PR and press around the battle against sugar. We’re starting an organization it’s called an alliance to control excessive sugar where it’s brands like us, the acronym is going to be aces, seven brands and this inaugural launch. We’re launching that tomorrow, actually, together, we’re removing over 10 million pounds of sugar from America’s diet this month. Nice. Yeah, I think LinkedIn is probably the most shareable and then Instagram for a bit more fun content.
Mark Divine 42:49
And what about do you guys do any personal engagement, if anyone want to reach out, let’s say, an attractive woman wanted to reach out to you?
DeCisso Brothers 42:57
Instagram as well. It’s a good place for us to connect with folks to I think DMS on Instagram, honestly become a place where you can build community. It’s just there on our phone so much. It’s not like an email that goes into the inbox. We all tend to see your Instagram notifications, right. So we’re all on Instagram, first name, last name. Would love to connect with your audience. That’s awesome.
Mark Divine 43:20
All right, guys. Once again, thanks very much. Appreciate your time, keep doing what you’re doing. And I’ll be looking out for you and support you in any way we can in the
DeCisso Brothers 43:28
man. Appreciate you. Thanks, Mark,
Mark Divine 43:30
who y’all be safe? What a great episode. I love those guys what tremendous energy they had super positive, all very growth oriented, great relationship was fun to see how they were as brothers. The way they honored their parents and learned so much from their parents as well as from athletics. Really interesting. Great to learn about the origin story of Jordan, mixing up protein with his coffee before his early morning basketball workouts. Also how the role of mentors really impacted them. And going deep and learning from a few mentors who had a profound impact on the decisions they made. And also the challenges that they had to overcome at each stage of business from zero to five, five to 1550 to 100 million and more business. Super interesting episode, if you have any interest in entrepreneurship or scaling business, you’re definitely gonna want to catch this. And I think the secret brothers for being on the show, and I thank you for listening. Oh, yeah. Show Notes and transcripts are up on our site at Mark Divine comm video will be up on YouTube channel. And you can reach out to me on Twitter at Mark Divine or on Instagram and Facebook. At real Mark Divine and you can always hit me up on my LinkedIn profile, divine inspiration, my new newsletters coming out soon. It’ll be weekly content, inspirational in nature, habits, things that I’ve come across that I find inspiring or interesting. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you join me and if you’re not on my email LS please go to Mark Divine.com and subscribe. Thank you very much to my special team Jason Sanderson. Geoff Haskell Michele, Czarnik, and Amy Jurkowitz without whom I couldn’t produce this podcast, there’s a ton of work that goes into lining up these great guests and producing the show every week. So thanks very much team. Reviews are very, very helpful. We have over 1005 star reviews over at Apple, my goal is to get 5000 This year, help me out, it helps other people find the show and gives us a lot of credibility. So I have the motivation to continue doing this. So go and review it and also share the episode if you find it valuable. Well, it’s 2022. And the world’s not getting any slower or less challenging. It is up to us to do the work, to train our minds, to integrate to be good people to be more compassionate, more world centric, greater perspective more inclusive. It starts with us. It starts with how we organize our thoughts how we organize our day, the people in our lives. We got to do the work. So I trust you that you’re doing your work. Part of that is listening to this episode, listen to this podcast, and paying it forward through how you show up with other people. So thanks for doing that and continue on. Until next week, who you are, be unbeatable. This is Mark Divine.