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Interview with Kun Yang, CEO of Pricklee.
With a background in healthcare, Kun Yang, CEO of Pricklee, has experienced countless hours feeling the effects of dehydration through a busy work day. He noticed that even with hundreds of drinks out there, there was not one truly natural and healthy option.
“So many “healthy” drinks were made in labs, contained artificial ingredients and used stevia, or quite plainly, just didn’t taste good, *cough* coconut water *cough*”
Luckily, one of his colleagues grew up eating the fruit of a cactus, the prickly pear, claiming that the fruit tasted like bubblegum. The prickly pear, native to Mexico, is an ancient super-fruit of the desert that has been a staple in drinks and medicines due to its naturally high concentration of antioxidants. It was from there that he decided this super-fruit had the potential to be the next health drink.
Coming from the healthcare industry, however, posed a series of challenges for Kun and his four other cofounders.
“We didn’t come from the consumer packaged industry so literally everything about this world felt like an alternative universe. The biggest adjustments were learning how to enter into a completely new industry, learning the lingo and jargon, understanding how the beverage industry operated, and building the right skillsets to be able to come in here and perform.”
After hundreds of recipes and a year of beta-testing, Pricklee was launched in July 2019.
What makes Pricklee’s superfruit water unique is that they are made with high-quality and sustainably sourced fruit, contains half the amounts of sugar and calories as coconut water, and tastes like bubblegum.
Running a young company, Kun and his team focused on learning about their brand through their customers’ experience over the last year-and-a-half. They launched on e-commerce in July 2020.
Kun believes that e-commerce will be the best channel for understanding and learning about their brand and messaging from consumers. One of their key learnings so far was that most people don’t have any idea of what a cactus tastes like. It may seem obvious, but understanding the hierarchy of communication points is just as difficult as figuring out what those points themselves are.
The upcoming year will mark a significant point in their business, shifting from their focus on testing and learning about their product to full-fledged brand building and sales.
“Paid social and influencer marketing are key growth drivers for us. From an e-commerce perspective, we’ve focused more on building out strong retention strategies than to scale on large basket sizes. It’s all about finding the loyal consumer, and then surprising and delighting them to continue enjoying our product!”
Entrepreneurship is the hardest, yet most gratifying professional pursuit you’ll make in your life. And while most people romanticize the successful end in all its glory, it’s really all about the journey – who you become, what you learn, the people that you meet – that make the experience. Make sure you take time to appreciate that sentiment, even when you hit your lows. Oh yeah, and those lows? They’re never as low as they may feel in the moment. Keep hustlin’!