Pepsi Co sample essay
Decorating an entire wall of your office with their products is quite another. For Tyler Benedict, it’s a way to remember how hard he’s worked and how quickly it could all slip away. His display of more than 200 energy drinks represents the success he’s earned in an industry that’s more likely to send intrepid entrepreneurs into bankruptcy than into Donald Trump’s tax bracket. “About 80 percent of these are gone,” he says proudly. “Most energy drinks fail in six months. ”
Benedict is the founder, owner and CEO of Greensboro-based Source Beverages, a thriving energy drink company with expected revenues of $2 million this year and distribution in more than 20 states. At 31, Benedict works at home in jeans and button-down shirts, selling the most caffeinated energy drink on the market. Burn, a tangy citrus-flavored beverage created in 2002, packs a walloping 118 milligrams of caffeine in each 8. 3-ounce blazing yellow can ? 48 percent more than industry leader Red Bull. But the creator of this human rocket fuel isn’t what you expect.
Benedict exudes an aura of calm and tranquility more typical of a yoga guru than the extreme athletes who down his product. The University of Florida journalism graduate doesn’t fit the mold of success in the billion-dollar energy drink busi-ness ? an industry where nearly 1,000 new drinks have been released in the past four years. “We’ve been very careful not to grow too fast,” Benedict says. “Lots of companies try to saturate the national market right away, and they go bust. ” Red Bull, introduced in the United States in 1996, jump-started the energy drink business.
The Austrian company has dominated the market ever since, and in 2004, its sales topped $1. 2 billion. His other competitors include multibillion dollar companies Coca-Cola and Pepsico. Benedict isn’t fazed by the competition. He has a zen-like confidence that if he works hard enough, he will succeed. “I can’t even explain it, but Tyler never even seems to think of quitting,” says wife Kristi Benedict. “It was something his parents taught him … to have so much confidence. ” An avid mountain biker, Benedict moved to North Carolina after college, not for a job (he didn’t have one), but for the terrain.
He met Kristi, an N. C. State graduate, while living in Charlotte. He proposed three and a half months after they met. Like so many things in his life, he had that eerie confidence that it was exactly the right thing to do. “It was very typical of Tyler,” Kristi Benedict said. “He knew what he wanted, and he knew it was right, so he just went for it. ” He was just as sure that his job at Charlotte marketing firm Kothe-Howard wasn’t going to work out. “The job was going nowhere,” he says. So, in 1997, Benedict headed south to his home state of Florida to work for his father’s advertising agency.
But that wasn’t the right fit either. “He realized that he didn’t want to work for anyone else,” says Kristi Benedict, who used the time in Florida to pursue a master’s degree. “We spent a lot of time at the bookstore. I’d be studying for the GMAT, and he kept wandering over to the health and nutrition aisle,” she says. As an extreme athlete, he was intrigued by the emerging energy drink market. He had heard about bikers drinking flat Coke ? athletes needed a drink with low carbonation and high caffeine ? for a quick burst at the end of a race.
Several energy drinks were on the market, but Benedict was determined to make one he would actually like. He started with Propel, a powdered energy drink, and filed paperwork to claim the name. Food industry giant Quaker Oats trademarked a flavored bottled water with the same name within two days. Quaker (now owned by Pepsico) offered Benedict a six-figure sum to surrender the trademark. Benedict took the offer, changed the product’s name to ProLyte and hit the extreme sport circuit to sell the sugary serum to athletes in search of a surge. The response was less than positive.
“We’d give people samples, and they’d say it was awful. I’d be thinking to myself, ? We’re eating Taco Bell just to get by, and they don’t even like it,’ ” Kristi Benedict recalls. Even when the money from Quaker Oats was nearly exhausted, Benedict wouldn’t give up. The couple moved to Greensboro, and Benedict started over in late 2001, working from home and borrowing money from family and friends. His new product was a ready-to-drink beverage called Burn. “We wanted to make something that was different than anything else out there,” he says. Creating the basic components of Burn wasn’t difficult.
At his father’s agency, Benedict had worked on accounts for vitamins and nutritional supplements. “I knew the basic ingredients that needed to be in there, so I just had to find a way to make the drink taste good,” he says. “So many energy drinks taste like medicine. ” Benedict talked family and friends into sampling his home-brewed concoctions to get an honest opinion. “You find yourself having to rely on friends and family, and I lost a few friends in the process,” he says. Benedict found that some beverage distributors tried to take advantage of him, and he dealt with a few unsavory characters while figuring out how to sell the drink.
He also had a tough time convincing people to take him seriously. “My dad always said once you hit 30, people start respecting you,” Benedict says. “And that’s turned out to be true. ” Despite the strain, Kristi Benedict says, her husband never wavered. “I wish I had his confidence,” she says. “There’s something in Tyler that just doesn’t ever let him give up. ” But when you’re David surrounded by Goliaths, you learn to be creative. Beverage giants Coke and Pepsi entered the burgeoning energy-drink business with products such as SoBe, Rock Star and Amp after Red Bull’s rapid ascent in the late 1990s.
“That’s been one of my toughest hurdles. Those three companies are the biggest in the business, and they’ve contracted for nearly all the shelf space in the big chain stores,” Benedict says. So Benedict courts regional convenience stores such as Neighbors, Wallace Oil and Kwik Stops to hawk his drink. He sells in bike stores and coffee shops. Although other energy-drink makers focus on extreme athletes, he markets to a much broader audience.
“I’m focusing on lifestyle,” he says. “This drink is for anyone who needs energy ?people dancing in a club, someone who’s burning the midnight oil at work. ” Despite his shy-guy demeanor, Benedict fits the profile of Burn’s target audience when it’s time to promote, making stops at late-night bar crawls and handing out samples of his drink at races. Locally, Benedict passes out samples of Burn at Live@Five at the Kress Center. This month, Burn will help sponsor the 48-Hour Film Project, and next month it will be a sponsor for UNCG’s fall kickoff. “He’s really the source of that company’s spark,” says Dale Brown, president of local bike shop Cycles de Oro.
Brown estimates his store sells 10 to 20 cases of the drink each week, with 24 cans in each case. “We used to see a lot of UPS drivers coming in to get it; those guys work like crazy. More recently, we’ve noticed a lot of kids coming in to buy it as well,” Brown says. Burn is the only energy drink his store sells. Brown, who has known Benedict for several years, says he always has been impressed by Benedict’s willingness to experiment with new marketing strategies. “He’s quiet, but he’s always coming up with ideas and promotions,” Brown says. “For lack of a better phrase, I’d say he’s got quite a bit of Yankee ingenuity.
” In May, Burn sponsored advance screenings of “Unleashed,” the martial-arts action film with Jet Li and Morgan Freeman, in 11 cities, including Manhattan, San Francisco, Chicago and, of course, Greensboro. It has sponsored other events such as hot body contests, video game tournaments and drag races. “Our marketing has gone from sampling at a grassroots mountain bike race to national level partnerships,” Benedict says. Next up? A new product and a new territory. He recently found distributors in the Northeast and expects to expand in the next few years to encompass the whole country.
In addition to Burn and Sugar Free Burn, Benedict is tackling the energy drink business’s latest trend: 16-ounce cans. His new drink Burn2 will launch at the end of the month. Benedict runs it all from a new townhouse on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Although the Southside town homes look alike, it’s easy to tell which one belongs to Benedict. Just look for the flaming yellow, pint-sized trucks and vans that dot the curb. Benedict works downstairs all day updating the company’s Web site, making calls to distributors and plotting his next business move on a gigantic dry-erase board.
Then, if there’s time, he climbs to the second floor for a few hours of sleep each night. Kristi Benedict, who has a degree in textiles, takes care of the couple’s 41/2-month-old son, Harrison, full time and is slowly adjusting to life outside the workforce. “This is really landmark for me,” she says. “I’m used to having a steady paycheck come in every month. ” Depending solely on Burn is nerve-wracking for her. Her husband, predictably, isn’t worried a bit. Benedict’s conviction is nothing new. His father, Jim Benedict, said his son always has been extremely focused and an independent thinker.
“Ever since he was little, he’s been very determined about what he wants,” Jim Benedict says. “He never gave us any real trouble, but he was a tough kid sometimes. ” An entrepreneur himself, Jim Benedict said he fully supports his son’s business ambitions. “I’m sitting here looking at a picture that Tyler drew for me when he was a sophomore in high school,” Jim Benedict says during a phone interview from his Florida office. “It’s of a knight on a black horse about to charge into a darkened forest. It’s a perfect representation of Tyler.
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