Meet our Co-founder, Dustin! Dustin is the VP of Product Development and the creative genius behind our delicious plant based protein beverages. Let’s get to know him and how he cultivates innovation for our product.
How did you get involved in the natural products and beverage industry?
“Being in medical sales, I was exposed to hospitals and sick people all the time. I was carrying devices for patients which were treating the symptoms rather than healing the root cause. After being in sales for 6 years, it got me thinking more about health. I wanted to get behind the problems rather than treating the after affects of bad diets. It really pushed me to get healthier myself as well as start looking at solutions for the general population.”
As a former medical supplies salesman, why did you want to create a plant based product?
“I had been a very traditional meat eater and frequently eating red meat and potatoes. I didn’t feel my best or look my best, which at the time, also went along with the college and drinking atmosphere. I found it was time to clean up my health and I had some friends that were vegetarian and vegan. I started peering into that life a little more and taking an interest in it. That was around the time that the cold pressed juice craze really started, which was when Raw Nature (now Koia) took off. I feel the immediate benefits of eating plant based. I wake up feeling good and function the best on it.”
Koia has some pretty awesome and tasty flavors out. How do you get inspiration for those flavors?
“Our original flavors were staples- Cacao Bean, Vanilla Bean, and Coconut Almond. We wanted to make people comfortable switching over to a plant based protein shake. We didn’t want complex flavors that turned people off. We wanted to say, “hey there’s no sacrifice here. You can enjoy a plant based beverage and get your protein from plants versus whey sources.” We taste just as good. We’re currently expanding into some interesting line extensions that are still popular, approachable flavors, but also more on the creative side. We’re very excited about that!”
It seems like there are millions of ingredients you can choose to source from. What do you do to research the high quality ingredients that Koia uses?
“I look at flavor trends, functional ingredients, what’s trending, and what’s been around forever that maybe isn’t being used as much in the marketplace as it should be. What also inspires me is what tastes good. I like to go to the extreme or “nerd out” by visiting places and seeing what other people are doing. Then, I take the Koia consumer into consideration. I love to create a hybrid by meeting in the middle- offering healthy benefits without alienating those consumers who aren’t as interested in the extreme functional food revolution, and just want a delicious tasting drink.”
How do you find out about new ingredients and flavor trends?
“I do a lot of reading, especially on publications such as BevNet and Food Navigator. I also like to see what is popular on social media and other parts of the world such as Bali and Australia because most likely, those ingredients will make their way here. Then, with the Koia consumer in mind we can find the right time to adopt those ingredients.”
Thanks for sharing your innovative inspirations and passions, Dustin. Be sure to look out for new Koia flavors coming soon (cultivated by the creative genius himself)!