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Oct 27, 2020

During our interview with Hoplark co-founder and CEO Dean Eberhardt, he mentioned that some consumers describe the brand’s HopTea beverages as “naughty.” Eberhardt explained while the hop-infused, zero-calorie teas are non-alcoholic, their resemblance to beer -- in taste and packaging -- might make a person blush if they were to drink one during the day or while driving a car.

Amid a growing number of Americans interested in sober-curious lifestyles, Hoplark HopTea has found a receptive audience and loyal following among consumers who’ve adopted the brand as a better-for-you alternative to carbonated alcoholic drinks. The products have also resonated with natural product consumers seeking better-for-you beverages; Hoplark landed a national deal with Whole Foods just 16 months after its debut in 2018. The brand has continued to thrive despite the Covid-19 crisis, during which it has built a burgeoning direct-to-consumer business.

As part of a conversation featured in this episode, Eberhardt spoke about the development and rise of Hoplark, including why he chose not pursue a career in his family’s business and how that decision paved the way for the brand’s creation. He also explained why Hoplark isn’t specifically promoted to sober-curious consumers, the thought-provoking way he describes the products’ functional attributes, the impact of limited edition flavors on driving brand loyalty and why the company turned down a venture capital investment this past summer.

Show notes: 

0:39: Interview: Dean Eberhardt, Co-Founder & CEO, Hoplark -- Taste Radio editor Ray Latf spoke with Eberhardt about his early morning habits, how getting fired from his own prior startup led him from Chicago to Boulder Colorado, the “lightbulb” moment that inspired the creation of HopTea and why he and his co-founder spent 18 months developing the formulation and branding  prior to launching the brand. He also explained why he’s “alcohol-agnostic,” his belief that he’s “a marketing textbook’s worst nightmare,” why the company is focused on letting the brand’s consumers “find their own journey” and why he never wants to sell a product based on what’s not in it. Later, he explained how Hoplark prepared for the pandemic, why the company is actively looking for long-term investment partners and not thinking about an exit and why self-manufacturing has been and will continue to be important.

Brands in this episode: HopLark, Whole30, Guinness