Vita Coco: Michael Kirban


Remember that kid in high school who was weirdly interested in business who had almost no interest in going to college or starting a traditional career, but was determined to start something on their own. You might have snickered about them or even ruled your eyes or maybe that kid was you. Well, that kid was also Michael. Kurban. Michael had the benefit of watching his dad pursue a bunch of different business ideas including ideas that failed but the specter failure never worried him. He knew from a very early age that it's part of the game that you gotta take big swings, which means you will also strike out a lot. And the biggest swing Michael would take would be for Vita. Coco you've probably seen their familiar Tetra Pak boxes of coconut water in pretty much every convenience store. In the early two thousands when Michael was trying to launch the brand New York City, he was pretty confident that coconut water would take off at the time most people who bought coconut water were immigrants from places like Vietnam India, the Caribbean and Latin America. But Michael had a hunch that coconut water could compete with sports drinks like gatorade. Now. At the exact same moment someone else had these same exact hunch. It would become a product known as Zico and so what happened and what you will hear is a story about a war, the coconut water wars of the early two thousands a war was sabotaged subterfuge dirty tricks, and eventually a pretty decent outcome for both parties. Today by COCO is the biggest brand of coconut water in the US. It has about forty percent market share but it would take a lot of time and a lot of obstacles to get there. Michel grew up in Connecticut and when he was nine his parents split up it was amicable. But while Michael, sister chose to live with their mom Michael Decide to stay with their dad. My Mom Got Custody I. Think my dad gave my mom custody and my dad was actually packing his things and preparing to leave the house and I packed my snoopy suitcase. Put It with all my dad's stuff and I remember my mom coming home and saying what's this and I said I'm moving in with dad she said. Okay Wow that's amazing. My mom ended up a few years later ended up moving into New York City so I'd spend weekends and city you know, and I still see her quite a bit but. Super Close with my dad. What did your parents do? When you were a kid. As a kid my dad was entrepreneur. My Dad always had businesses before him. My grandfather always had different businesses my grandfather same thing. So. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs I don't think there's a single male in my family who's graduated from college on both sides and. My Dad when I was young had a roller skating rink. which was awesome. In. Those were the successful days and then he had other businesses that weren't so successful and we went through periods of doing well and other periods of not doing so well and were those. Birthday party I had roller skating birthday party and four remember birthday parties and Church groups and youth group of and stuff like that. Happened there. Everybody I went to school with as a kid had their birthday party at the roller skating ring. So so good. So I got to go to all the parties whether I was invited or not. Yeah, and then as rollerskating kind of out and was now we'll thing anymore he turned the place into a rap concert hall. So I grew up one of twelve thirteen years old hanging out with beastie boys ll cool J. Kid it was really really cool experience. So he really pivoted because thinking that what happened roller skating it was great. It was like one day was there and then it was gone. Yeah it was a real fat. People stopped going and he pivoted very quickly and you know that works for a little bit of time and then just didn't work anymore. So in terms of school, how how was it for you? Was it hard was it easy where you good student? Not a good student school was really tough. I had several learning disabilities from attention deficit disorder to form of Dyslexia as I got into high school they. Me and by diagnosing me, they put me in what we used to refer to as Romper. Room. which was. Half the day in normal classes and half the day in basically special ed it was a room with me and other kids who. Many of which had more complicated issues than I had. I knew I was very late in reading and math was really hard for me and I had a clear goal and that goal was to get cs and. Get as close to passing as possible. And that was always the objective and I always knew that would be successful in whatever I did. But why did you know that? I don't know I just felt because even then right even though I was in these classrooms I was still. Successful in things that I wanted to do you know I was not the best athlete but I worked hard and you know I was able to. Play ball and it wasn't the best. I definitely wasn't a good student but I was able to get by and I, just I just had this confidence from an early

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