Thursday, May 6, 2010

Interview with Vital Energy CEO Michael Joseph

Jumping in Pools is proud to present our 85th interview in our on-going series. Today we are lucky to have CEO of Vital Energy, Michael Joseph. Vital Energy is an energy drink infused with vitamins and is based out of Rochester, New York. The drink has also inspired a viral video, with 250,000 views on YouTube alone. Thanks to Mr. Joseph for a good interview:

You are the CEO of Vital Energy. How did you get involved?

I came back from graduate school, studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan, and began looking for a job or opportunities to start a company. I met with a long time friend of mine and he mentioned he didn’t like coffee or carbonated energy drinks, but needed something to wake him up for his 12 hour workdays crunching numbers for an accounting firm. One week later I had designed a mock label in my spare time and began to research how to start a beverage company.

Where do you see Vital Energy in the next two years?

I see us expanding throughout the Northeast and down the east coast. I also see our online presence increasing as we add more YouTube videos and Facebook material. From the start we have wanted to stay in touch with our consumers and fans. Our notes and blogs serve as a diary so people can see exactly how we grew our company from the ground up.

Why do you believe Vital Energy is the best energy drink on the market?

I love Vital Energy because it gives you the same kick as a 16oz carbonated energy drink (2 red bulls or 1 monster energy drink); however Vital Energy is more refreshing, hydrating, and tastes much better. It’s loaded with vitamin Bs and has less sugar than other energy drinks so you don’t experience a caffeine crash. Most importantly it tastes amazing, is smooth, and it doesn’t have that nasty energy drink after taste.

A YouTube video featuring your energy drink, "Epic nervous breakdown caused by vital energy drink (prank)," has garnered over 100,000 views. Where did you get the idea for it, and did you expect it to be such a viral video?

We are a small company that was started out of my parent’s basement. Since funds are normally tight in a startup company we decided to use as many free and guerilla style marketing avenues as we could. We have been posting YouTube videos since we began and knew that if we had a video go viral it could do wonders for us in terms of brand recognition. We came up with this prank to entertain our fans and figured we’d get some type of reaction from my parents. We had no idea the level of ‘freakout’ would be off the charts. I still can’t believe the number of views we have gotten so far. And I barely remember the prank, I think I blacked out I was so scared when I walked in…

Describe the aftermath of the prank.

Oh God. Well, I contemplated throwing out all the video when I went to Jake’s house that morning after we carried all the cases out of my parent’s home. My mom was pretty upset and exhausted the next day, but I gave her a big hug when she got home from work and we talked for a long time. She mentioned to me that day that I could never post the video because she thought she could lose her job. She didn’t ‘agree’ to let me post it on YouTube for 3 more weeks, and even then I’d say it was a maybe. When I finally did post it a month later, my mom was extremely nervous and things were tense for a few days. I had some extended family members who were upset at me for posting it, and many more that thought it was great marketing. After the video began to go viral, doors began to open for us and people started telling my mom and me how much they loved the prank. We had media interviews, investor calls, and industry contacts get in touch with us (We were even interviewed for 2 shows that will air on TruTV in a month!). In a nutshell, the aftermath was extremely stressful for me and my mom, but in the end it has been wonderful!

How would people reading this interview be able to buy some Vital Energy?

The best way if you live in the 14 Counties between Buffalo and Seneca Falls, NY would be to use our store locator on our website ( Otherwise we do offer Vital Energy for sale online in single flavor or assorted 6pks and 12pks!

Is there anything more you would like to add?

Yes! I just have a few words for any budding entrepreneurs out there. Don’t give up on your business dreams or your company. Perseverance is everything in entrepreneurship.

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