Coconut Beach is revolutionizing the way we view healthy food and beverages by offering quality coconut water and snacks at affordable prices. The San Diego-based company believes in acting with integrity and strives to produce only the most delicious, naturally flavorful snacks and drinks. We sat down with founders Mitchell Compton II, Kent Harrington and Michael Reidy to chat about Coconut Beach, lessons they’ve learned and the importance of Small Business Week.
"Small business is the heartbeat of America — we are out here taking risks and are in the trenches.”
What was the inspiration behind starting Coconut Beach? What drove you to the food and beverage industry?
Simple, we have access to a quality food and beverage product that we want to share with as many people as we can without the typical markup that you would see in this type of business. All three of us have been long-time consumers of coconut water and we have been advocates for the health benefits of this amazing drupe (the botanical name for a coconut). Knowing what we know and understanding that the market for our product will continue to grow, year after year, there really wasn’t much hesitation between us to jump into this industry.
How did you come up with the name “Coconut Beach?”
Some of the best ideas are the simple ones. This connotation of a coconut on the beach was a perfect fit for us. Honestly, we were all surprised that the name was not already registered, so it didn’t take long for us to all get behind the concept of Coconut Beach. We immediately reached out to our attorneys that handle this area of law and took the necessary steps of securing this name for our brand. As of a few weeks ago, we now hold the registered mark.
What are the biggest strengths that small businesses have over large chain businesses?
We would have to say that a lot of things can and do get lost in translation as a company becomes more layered. Keeping things simple has always been our motto and so far, it seems to work well for us. We feel that being a small business allows us to move fast and make decisions quickly. Whether our decisions are based on monitoring the latest social media or just from simple advice our friends and family have provided, we are able to implement ideas quickly without all the boardroom talk because we respect each other as equals. We have no President or VP – instead, we all simply refer to each other as co-founders. Being consumers ourselves, we are in tune with what our consumers want and feel that makes us very adaptable.
What differentiates the food and beverage industry in terms of attracting and retaining customers?
This space is highly competitive and you have to be genuine about what you are putting out there. We feel you have to put out a high quality product at a reasonable price. The term getting “the most bang for your buck” gave us a great starting point for what we should be charging our consumer. Everyone is out to get a fair price these days and we think we have hit the sweet spot with where we can price our product line.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). We have all gotten excellent advice from our parents who are business people, as well as from other business partners, attorneys, accountants and bankers. As they say, it takes a village.
To you, what is the importance of Small Business Week?
Small business is the heartbeat of America — we are out here taking risks and are in the trenches. It's an exciting place for us, as young entrepreneurs, especially in the consumer packaged goods industry because we believe in our product’s benefits for our consumers. Through this partnership, we have fostered a small business that allows us to come together as a group of equals, each bringing unique assets to the table that have prepared us for a successful beginning within such a short time frame.
Other than Small Business Week, what can other businesses and customers do to support local small businesses?
We feel it is always important to support small businesses in any way that we can. Like when we go in to our local coffee shop and drop a couple dollars, we know where it’s going. That kind of money spent is going to stay in the community and allow it to grow. We rely on our fellow small businesses, such as local restaurants, third party professionals, as well as the people in the community to help us execute our plan.
What is the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome as a small business owner?
As we grow, I am sure this answer will grow as well. However, from where we are now, one year after starting something from scratch, the biggest hurdle is trying to make sure we are not victims of our own success. We aim to align with the right retailers to create mutually beneficial relationships.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of First Republic Bank.
© First Republic Bank 2016