Innovation: Perseverance and Expertise

Henrik Stamm Kristensen

I recently had opportunity to read the story of Suja Juice in Forbes. I think it is a good example of how perseverance can take the simplest products to become a commercial success. Regarding innovation, perseverance is equally valid. The story of Suja, which also combines the passion of a young team and the mentorship of senior businessmen, is truly inspiring.

Suja produces 20 different organic juices and Forbes warns it may become the next Chobani. They use simple ingredients and have found a method to kill pathogens without heat, preserving the nutrients of cold-pressed juice and making it a scalable product. These are some of the key points of the story that I find interesting and that can lead to success, both commercially and regarding innovation:

  • Perseverance. Eric Ethans, one of the promoters of the project, had gone through several failed businesses related to restoration. He tried again with Annie Lawless and when things started to get complicated they sought out help and collaboration.
  • Seniority’s expertise and youth’s passion. Good balance. Forbes states it as one of the keys to the success of the project. “Suja is the tale of two young entrepreneurs who had the good sense to hire some adult supervision”. These are the two missing pieces to the team: James Brennan and Jeff Church, who moved a “ragtag operation” into the current business.
  • Direct experience of customer listening. Before the incorporation of the two seniors, the business’ founders had distributed their products themselves, got feedback from their customers, and improved them to really meet customer’s needs.
  • Innovation to meet a challenge. After incorporation of Jeff Church, they found a method to maintain the freshness of the product and enter the big distribution, making the business scalable. “Ethans and Lawless never considered selling through distributors, since the product would expire before it reached shelves”, the Forbes’ article says.




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