A Journey to Success With XS: David Vanderveen And A Healthier Approach To Energy Drinks
An energy drink without sugar, calories, or even caffeine? Unheard of! Yet XS Energy Drink co-owner and Laguna Beach resident David Vanderveen says he does it, in 13 flavors with a healthier approach than the Monsters and Red Bulls of the world.
How did XS Energy Drink start? How did you come up with the name?
It started through another company called Logic Nutrition. I got involved with the owner, and during that process I came up with the idea of energy drinks. And then I decided to refocus with a distribution partner. XS Energy is really just an acronym for excessive energy. But excessive and excess are pretty long, whereas XS is simple.
What is your affiliation with Amway?
They are the exclusive distributors for XS globally. A big part of our success is that we're able to work differently in these markets. We're kind of disruptive because of the Amway distribution model, and we don't have to go through the same channels to communicate with the consumers. Because we have these distributors who can tell more and deliver deeper brand stories and experiences through sharing and sampling the products, it allows us to do more that we'd be able to do off a traditional shelf, where basically we're limited to television ads, and print ads. We can actually have people sampling, which gives us a lot of presence as consumers discover our products.
What are some of the values that XS Energy Drink promotes?
Liberty. Giving people the opportunity to express themselves, to define their dreams, and pursue them. We think that's kind of adventurous. The journey is just as and even more important than the destination. What our brand is really trying to promote is supporting the consumers and letting them participate in the distribution and sales to a place where they can actually start to earn enough income to live the life they want to live. XS is about fueling people's dreams.
What do you like the most, and what do you like the least about being the co-owner of XS Energy Drink?
My most favorite part is that I get to live my life doing what I love to do. I love that I get to travel and meet new people. The thing I like the least is wrestling with all the technical regulations in every market, which can get frustrating. Another thing I really don't like is spending weeks a year lobbying for our category in Washington D.C. because we're being, in my opinion, unfairly picked on by energy drink bigots, and people who don't really understand what type of drink and formulas are in a category. They say that all energy drinks are the same, and therefore all energy drinks need to be regulated the same way.
How are you dealing with this obstacle?
We have to get very proactive, and try to communicate with health committee members way ahead and say, "Hey, this is who we are. We're absolutely different. Please don't categorize us with other people who are doing other things."
What do you think about young athletes being sponsored by brands such as XS Energy Drink?
Here in Laguna Beach, there are a lot of people who own action sports brands, and there's a number of pro athletes as well. A lot of the kids are getting sponsorships, and so there's a lot of talk around our house about getting sponsored. What I've always said to my kids is, "It's great if you're talented and get to be sponsored, but the real long term goal should be signing the front of the check, not the back of it."
Is XS Energy Drink going to launch any new flavors soon? What are some of the ideal flavors you've thought about? How do you usually decide which flavors to launch?
Yes, we'll definitely continue the exploration of new flavors. We have a couple of hot ones that I'm pretty excited about, for the fall. I can't tell you what they are yet, but I can tell you how we go about them. We look for flavors that are compelling, unique, and different. Flavors that consumers really love but might feel guilty about. We try to deliver those flavors, but without the guilt that sugar and all the calories bring. We're really exploring right now how we can create a platform of healthy snacking options that give consumers positive energy while still delivering a tasty flavor.
What are some of the goals and dreams that you'd still like to accomplish as the co-owner of XS Energy Drink?
Our goal right now is to open up more markets with Amway. We just launched XS in Japan, and it was a success. Now we're looking into some European launches, maybe more in Asia, and even in Latin America. It will take a lot of time, planning, and effort, but we're very optimistic, and we'll continue to be a partner for Amway distributors, and show the world more of our brand.
What would you recommend or say to all the kids out there that dream of becoming successful businessmen like you, and getting involved in the energy drinks industry?
I would say live deliberately, which means living with a purpose. A purpose that they have to find. They should take time to figure out what they really care about. I think what's important in life is to find a destination that really makes someone the best in the world at, and generate enough value that people might give them in return. If people figure that out for themselves, everyday will be a passionate, fun exciting adventure.
As the father of two sons, do you hope that they will take over the business someday? Have they helped you with any of your XS projects? What do they think about your career?
Possibly. We have this set of core values about letting people identify what they think is going to empower their lives that they can be successful at. We're not trying to tell our kids what they need to do, but to present them what we think are great resources, and walk them through how we ended up where we did, in our belief structures. We give our kids tools for their lives rather than give them the answer. I don't know if they'll be in the energy drink industry, but what I'm trying to do is to encourage them to find their paths. I think they'll be incredibly successful and happy, and I would not be surprised if they exceeded any success that I've had.
Find XS Energy Drink at www.xsblast.com.
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