March 30, 2020

This beverage biz soared to success thanks to its community. Now, it’s giving back

The beverage business LIFEAID achieved success thanks in part to its community partners, and now it’s investing in those same partners to help them during the pandemic.

In 2011, Aaron Hinde and Orion Melehan pooled their life savings and launched a sports beverage company called LIFEAID.

Neither co-founder had a background in the beverage business. Against recommendations from industry veterans, the 2 co-founders decided to focus not on selling their drinks in grocery stores, but instead to sell them directly to consumers online and directly to gyms.

The strategy worked: In its first 5 years, the company grew between 30% and 40% annually.

And, after initially skipping over traditional sellers, LIFEAID eventually partnered with large retailers like Whole Foods and Walmart.

At the start of this year, the independently owned company was on track to do $50m in sales.

The pandemic led to the closure of most of the company’s partner gyms — which bring in between 35% and 40% of its revenue.

The company has so far absorbed the disruption because online sales on Amazon and at big partners like Walmart have exploded, leading some flavors of LIFEAID to sell out.

Now, LIFEAID is focused on using that money to support its smaller partners. A new program gives gyms $15 every time one of their members orders LIFEAID online and enters their gym’s unique code.

LIFEAID will lose money on the partnership program. But the company’s co-founders want to support the people who teamed up with them at the beginning.

“Those are the people who got us here,” co-founder Aaron Hinde told The Hustle. “How do we support them?… When we get past this, people are going to remember who did what during this time.”

  • Founders: Aaron Hinde and Orion Melehan
  • Years in Business: 9
  • Annual Growth: 30% to 40% YoY
  • Projected Annual Revenue: $50m

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