Founders of ViB in Dallas
The Problem: In 2008, Valdene and Hollman were running a toy company that sold $6 million in marshmallow shooters every year. At a trade fair in New York City they saw an attendee collapsing from what looked like a heart attack. Paramedics later told them that the man had in fact suffered an anxiety attack -- brought on by too many caffeinated energy drinks.
The Moment: They decided that the world needed the opposite of an energy drink: a relaxation drink made from soothing, natural ingredients. With the help of a food scientist they created a drink with theanine, an amino acid found in green tea; B vitamins; and L-threonine, a natural antidepressant. They enlisted six grad students to test the drink.
The Payoff: Three months later Valdene (now 42) and Hollman (40) launched ViB (pronounced Vibe). Today ViB sells through 68 West Coast distributors. Sales are expected to hit $5 million this year.
Innovation Tip: Don't hang on to your vision too tightly. Hollman planned to name the drink "Vacation in a Bottle." After being that told it wouldn't be legal to hand out glass bottle samples in most public places, they switched to cans. Then 7-Eleven told them they didn't want the drink in a can because it looked too much like an energy drink, so ViB adopted aluminum bottles.
"You have to be flexible," says Hollman. "You know what your outcome is. It's all the little things along the way that can change." -Jennifer Alsever
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