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Golazo Energy Looks To Capitalize On Soccer, Latino Culture and Natural Food; Starbucks’ Schultz Is Investor; First Beverage Group Advising

Beverage Business INSIGHTS:

Looking to capitalize on growing enthusiasm for soccer in US, trio of Seattle-based entrepreneurs has been testing all-natural energy drink in 12-oz cans called Golazo and recruited likes of Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz as investors. Richard Tait, former Microsoft exec who went on to create and run Cranium game before selling out to Hasbro in 07, said effort is first to emerge from incubator he’s set up called BoomBoom Brands. Golazo, whose name is Spanish-language announcers’ call for spectacular goal, looks to capitalize on 3 pillars: soccer’s growing popularity, particularly in Pacific Northwest, where recently inaugurated Major League Soccer franchises have been regular sellouts; increasing Latino influence on US culture, and interest in all-natural food items. Lightly carbonated line in 12-oz cans blends yerba mate and guarana and is reinforced with electrolytes, giving it some similarity to Rockstar Recovery and Monster Rehab. But it’s all natural and low in calories, with regular line containing 90 calories per can and Sugar Free just 10 calories via erythritol/stevia sweetener blend.

BoomBoom’s co-founders with Tait are Alex Rosenast, former mgr of grunge icons Pearl Jam and Rock Candy club, and Josh Taft, TV ad vet who’s shot brands like Nike and bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. All 3 are soccer nuts, operating out of former BMW dealership in Seattle’s Capitol Hill that’s been outfitted with 3v3 soccer pitch, soccer videogaming systems and other paraphernalia that have already drawn 1,000+ soccer geeks to site, Scottish-born Richard noted. (Efforts have built Facebook fan base to 15,000 in barely a month.) Starbucks’ Schultz had been investor in Cranium. Other prominent investors include Moretti brewing family (owners of Inter Milan club in Italy) and key investor in Spain’s Real Madrid team. Brand has brought aboard First Beverage Group’s Portland-based partner, Joth Ricci, as consultant on distribution and other issues.

Brand launched last Oct at typically sold-out Seattle Sounders home game and edged into just 25 retail accounts – from c-stores to taco trucks – to gauge brand reception, then added Amazon Fresh, where it became #2-selling bev in 14 zip codes where brand was available, Richard noted. Since then it’s added 75 QFC groceries and partnered with Coke bottler Dolsen in eastern part of Wash State, where it’s now in 300 accounts. It just launched in Whole Foods, which, like QFC, is serviced by wholesaler JC Wright, and is on campus at Reed and 5 other colleges. Brand recently edged into Portland market and later this year or in 2012 will “inch” its way into Calif, Tait said. Brand info at golazoenergy.com.