Innovation’s Edge: Bottling The “Suja Experience” in Organic Juice Drinks
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Co-Founder and CEO
What’s the formula for success? Suja Life LLC successfully combined organic ingredients, on-trend flavors and cold-pressed, high-pressure pasteurization (HPP) technology. Since its 2012 debut, Suja has helped reinvent the chilled juice category and has grown from first-year sales of $18 million to $65 million in 2015. Named by Forbes one of “America’s Most Promising Companies” (No. 2), Suja has introduced more than 80 new products in three years. It also continues to grow, thanks to a 2015 minority investment from The Coca-Cola Company. Learn how Suja maintains its disruptive edge with more new products (including probiotic waters, nutrition shots) while it expands both physically and geographically!
Jeff Church, Co-Founder and CEO of Suja Juice, has enjoyed a career of numerous successful entrepreneurial ventures, ranging from a multi-million dollar private equity firm to co-founding and leading one of the fastest growing organic juice brands in the country. Jeff brings an extensive background in social entrepreneurship and goodwill to Suja, in addition to expertise in product branding and operations.
As Founder and CEO of Nika Water Company, a social enterprise that donated 100% of its profits to clean water projects and poverty alleviation around the world, Jeff made a name for himself as a prominent social entrepreneur and has applied this same, successful approach to business, helping skyrocket Suja’s unprecedented growth. In utilizing his vast retail knowledge, Jeff fostered a strong and strategic relationship with key retailers, including Whole Foods Market, which led to quick triple-digit revenue growth and product expansion for Suja. Jeff is also responsible for the groundbreaking launch of Suja Elements, a high-quality, functional refreshment line that uses cold-pressed organic juice, blended fruits and some of the world’s best superfoods, available exclusively at Whole Foods Market.
In the summer of 2015, Suja announced an investment and distribution partnership with The Coca‑Cola Company, as well as a minority investment from the Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs. Jeff played a key role in brokering these deals, which helped to expand Suja’s distribution to almost 50% more locations, including new venues such as college campuses and big grocery chains.
In 2015, Suja was named #2 on the list of Forbes America’s Most Promising Companies, moving up a spot from its #3 ranking in 2014. In addition, Jeff received numerous personal accolades as a 2015 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the San Diego region, and BevNET’s 2015 Person of the Year.
Prior to founding Nika Water in 2008, Jeff, who holds a MBA from Harvard, Business School founded Autus Capital, a $25 million private equity firm that focuses on acquisitions of middle market manufacturing and distribution companies. Previous to this, Jeff served as president and general manager of various divisions within ERICO, as well as held associate and senior positions at Morgan Stanley and Ernst & Young, respectively.
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