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Q&A: Zola launches plant-based energy drink to fuel those living the “slash life”

Zola founder and CEO Chris Cuvelier discusses the beverage brand's new line of Organic Hydrating Energy drinks and how the company is partnering with leaders, creators and innovators to establish itself as a lifestyle brand.

6 min read


Q&A: Zola launches plant-based energy drink with modern lifestyles in mind


This post is sponsored by Zola.

Consumers’ desire for natural energy drinks and plant-based hydration inspired beverage brand Zola to create its new Organic Hydrating Energy line and launch a marketing campaign aimed at people who have many pursuits. We interviewed founder and CEO Chris Cuvelier about the importance of connecting with consumers on a lifestyle level and what inspired the brand to branch out from açaí juice and coconut water.


Zola’s original products — Organic Açaí Juice and Coconut Water — are focused on the power of plants to hydrate and nourish. How does Zola’s new Organic Hydrating Energy drink line harness the functional benefits of plants to deliver the natural energy boost consumers are looking for?

Since the early days of Zola, we have sourced the best ingredients from around the world to produce great tasting functional beverages. We bottled the passion and vitality from Brazil in our Organic Açaí Juice and hydration and replenishment from Thailand’s coconuts. Today, our mission is to find natural sources of hydration and use only plant-based ingredients. This has led to our transition to all vegan ingredients and the removal of carrageenan from both our espresso and chocolate coconut water flavors. It’s also the driving force behind the development of our new Organic Hydrating Energy Drink, featuring sparkling coconut water and organic energy sources such as green coffee and green tea extracts to re-energize and replenish.

This new line of beverages is the next evolution in Zola’s commitment to Plant-Powered Hydration and is a delicious and easy way to get replenishment from only the best plant-based ingredients Mother Nature can supply. The products are USDA Certified Organic and come in four delicious flavors — Açaí Berry, Matcha Green Tea, Pineapple Coconut and Dragon Fruit. Each 12 oz. can contains 120 milligrams of organic plant-powered caffeine, which is the equivalent of two shots of espresso, and 230-240 milligrams of potassium to help hydrate.

Our Plant-Powered Hydration philosophy is driving our innovation strategy as we continue to meet consumers’ increased desire for plant-based nutrition and hydration in a natural great-tasting beverage. Whether it’s after an early morning workout or at the 4 p.m. slump, we provide a variety of options to naturally re-energize and replenish throughout the day.

How did Zola develop these new Organic Hydrating Energy drinks?

Our team saw a gap in the energy drink market and talked to consumers to understand what they really wanted in this space. We created several varieties that were as innovative and appealing as the concept of Organic Hydrating Energy Drinks itself. Great taste is a Zola hallmark! So, after several rounds of research, development and internal taste-testing, we took our Dragon Fruit, Matcha Green Tea, Açaí Berry and Pineapple Coconut flavors out to consumers and customers for feedback. The feedback we received was very positive — each flavor is delicious and very different from the next, and the benefits were clear.


The rollout of the Zola Organic Hydrating Energy Drink line comes with a new marketing push around living the “slash life” — a lifestyle that embraces the integration of passion, profession and play. Why is appealing to consumers on a lifestyle level so important in today’s market?

Today, people pursue multiple careers, passions, and activities simultaneously and with equal vigor. Our target consumers live what we call the “slash life” — they are open to many different means of fulfillment. They even define themselves this way in their titles and social media profiles, literally using slashes to illustrates their many components — traveler/dreamer/copywriter/kiteboarder.

This insight led us to develop the “Live Zola / Be____” campaign. Zola recognizes that our consumers living the slash life are the ones that know their next move, and we’ll be there to fuel it. We’re all about showing our consumers that our brand is not just about delicious beverages. Our Organic Hydrating Energy Drinks, Coconut Water and Organic Açaí Juices are the fuel that empowers them to fill in the blanks and keep hustling.

How is Zola using partnerships to establish itself as a lifestyle brand, and how does the company choose which brands to work with?

We support those living the “slash life” by partnering with groups like Startup Grind, TECHmunch and IVY as well as with leaders, creators and innovators in the business and athletic communities. These are the folks who are living examples of the slash life — blending their professional pursuits with their passions and active lifestyles.

Through these partnerships, we are going deep into the entrepreneurial and active lifestyle world. We’re bringing Zola Fueling Stations to key events up and down the West Coast, providing a physical space to forge personal connections, charge up technology and fuel our consumers with Zola’s latest line of drinks. We’re really excited to bring our Plant-Powered Hydration drinks to these hard-working individuals.

How has your own experience living the slash life shaped Zola and helped you coach and motivate others?

The slash life spirit is in our company DNA — it’s how we Live Zola. Back when I started my journey as a thirty-something hustler, I was inspired to start the first beverage company to bring bottled Organic Açaí Juice into the US. To say it was hard is an understatement, but was it worth it? Totally!

Zola became a successful açaí juice business, but I didn’t want to stop there — we soon expanded Zola into the Coconut Water category, my favorite source of hydration after a good surf session. Today, I continue to work with the team and search for new sources of plant-based ingredients to drive innovation for the brand. I also enjoy sharing my experiences with those living the slash life, in hopes that I can inspire them to continue on their journey, no matter how hard it may be to get there. I have never had a 9-to-5 job working for someone else. I am a CEO and a founder, but at my core, I am an entrepreneur. Sometime in the future, I hope to start a consulting company to help young hustlers with great ideas start-up their own companies and teach them some of the lessons I have been fortunate enough to learn along the way. Right now, I’m proud to be working with my team, taking Zola to the next level and fueling folks with the best sources of Plant-Powered Hydration as they work towards achieving their goals!

Chris Cuvelier is the founder and CEO of Zola, a San Francisco-based beverage company with a portfolio of all-natural Coconut Water, Organic Açaí Juice, and new Organic Hydrating Energy beverages. He’s spent his career focused on fruit and beverages, specializing in the juice and smoothie industry before taking a life-changing trip to Brazil that inspired him to start Zola.


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